Brighthand or darkhand? Passion or Addiction? A personal confession

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by leifh, Jul 12, 2003.

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  1. leifh

    leifh Mobile Consultant

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    This post is about my struggling relationship with high-tech, particularly with my nifty little PPC (ipaq 3955). If you have never wondered if having and using your little gadget brings about more bad than good fruit in your life, or if you are unwilling to think about that possibility, that this post is not for you. Yet if you have or are struggling with these kinds of questions, or perhaps you are open to think about it, read on...

    (If you are crunched for time or impatient with people like me who take a while to give the context for their issue, skip the next three paragraphs until the paragraph "*****The gist...")

    Well, I'm taking a bit of a risk sharing this with all you people I don't know, but I figured it was worth the risk. My hopes are that perhaps others will resonate with what I'm saying, perhaps have a word of advice or two (though honestly I'm mostly aiming just for empathy --I've thought about this a lot and don't know if more 'information' will help things), and at best --maybe some of you will be helped some way in reading this post.

    I've actually done quite a bit of thinking about the topic of how technology in general effects our culture, our creativity (particularly the way we 'play/recreate') and our spiritual lives. As a theology/philosophy student at Regent college, I wrote a paper that compared the magic in Tolkien's Middle Earth (three kinds) to the technology in our world, it is titled "The Ring, The Stone, & The Pool: Exploring the nature of technology through the magic within Tolkien's myth" and can be found here:
    http://www.enteuxis.org/leifh/The Ring, The Stone, & The Pool.doc

    My basic conclusion in this paper was that our increasing dependence on technology, particularly in the way we create & 'play', is having a lot more serious consequences (on our relationships, our spirit, our imagination, our bodies & senses, etc) that we might realize or be ready to admit and that we need to counter this trend by restoring more relational forms of creativity and play. This challenge ended up being the subject of my Arts Theis Project --but I won't go into that here.

    *****
    The gist of what I want to say is this: I'm suspicious that having and using a PDA might have more negative consequences than positive. The postive I won't list --as all of you on a board like this would probably already be aware of those.* Some of the negative though are:

    -Spending an unhealthy/imbalanced amount of time using it (regretting the loss afterwards).

    -An increasing dependency on it that weakens my natural memory and other faculties.

    -The haze/fuzziness of mind/spirit I feel after spending more than 15 mins on it (or any screen type device)

    -The constant temptation (because its always close at hand) to turn to it as a distraction, a diversion, an entertainment (which etymologically means "to hold") --away from my real feelings, pains, needs, relationships, loneliness, sense of seperation/grief, etc. In other words --an escape from the painful parts of life which ends up being an escape from the deeper joys of life as well.

    -The way the PDA (using it, upgrading it, tinkering with it, etc) seems to be always on my mind.

    -The way it seems to effect my relating with other people (gets in between, which can be annoying or hurtful to my wife or friends or whoever I'm not being very present to).

    -The way the 'using' of it seems to foster an impatience, greed for "MORE" options, information, speed, etc. --which sometimes filters into the way I relate to the rest of life, people, etc.


    These are the main issues that concern me, but I'm sure that there are others I could list or that you might have experienced.

    "So why don't you just give it up?" I imagine some of you saying.
    Well, its not so simple, and I can think of at least three good reasons:
    1)There are also good things that come from using it and I'm just not sure if the bad ones outweigh the good ones...yet they might.
    2)The negative consequences (listed above) seem to have gotten somewhat better as I have become more use to the device, incorporate it, etc. --loses its initial 'nifty' quality (yet, we are always looking for the next new thing...software or hardware, and this could just keep going on forever)
    3)There is somewhat of an addiction here...and if you know about addictions, as strange as a 'technology addiction' sounds --they aren't easy to give up. Honestly, I think technology is one of the most dangerous addictions (for the world as a whole) in our country --yet its hardly talked about.

    So, there you have it. I look forward to any replies, insights, stories, etc. from those of you who understand where I'm coming from.

    Cheers, and may you resist the seductive power of The Ring.

    --Leif


    (I will be posting this at a couple of other sites as well)
     
  2. g0097

    g0097 Mobile Evangelist

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    Your paper looks interesting! I will read it and comment on it later!
     
  3. Spurv

    Spurv Mobile Evangelist

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    You put things into perspetive.

    To add some to your ambivalence towards our almost religious approach to technology, I have to add two confessions:

    1) I definately put more time and energy into my PDA addiction than I seem to get back. I love to say it makes me more efficient, but I have to realise that this is not true. This negative energy balance bothers me...

    2) When Neil Armstrong took the first step on the Moon in 1969, it seemed like a start of a whole new era. However, nothing much really happened up in space after that, did it? I feel the same way about the PDAs: Pocket PC 2000 was a great acheivement, but now, almost three years later, we do just about the same things, don't we?

    Can any of you see what great improvements lays ahead i the PDA world? 800 MHz processors? 100 Mb built in RAM? More slots for more memory cards?

    For what purpose... ?



    (Just so that you know that I'm not perfect ... I have just ordered the upgrade CDs for PPC 2003.)
     
  4. leifh

    leifh Mobile Consultant

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    Thanks for your reply Spurv,

    I must say that I was a little nervous as to what the first post would be, anywhere from "Get a life geek!" (which, believe it or not, I have a pretty wonderful life right now) to an empathetic response like yours.

    Yes, I agree --I didn't even get into the topic of how practical, time-saving, efficient (our culture's favorite word) ARE the apps I use. For example, I have spent MANY hours over the last two months obsessively trying to tailor the 'perfect' PIMs --and part of it is just a fun, hobby-like, interest in tinkering around with things --colors, icons, categories, notes, etc. --but on the other hand, uh....was I using these PIMs largely to save time and manage it more efficiently? Hmmm. Yet, there is something neat about looking at PI's week view, seeing my week ahead color coded, etc.....YET my hunch is all this energy is only fostering something in me that I already need to let go of more...CONTROL!
    SPiritually speaking...seems like thats at the heart of life...and I'm not sure if my tech toys are helping matters any.

    Cheers,
    Leif

    (PS I like your question about where are we headed...the 1 gig mhz pda, etc...would be an interesting thread...personally, I think the bio and the tech (for a large number of people) are gradually going to merge more...
    PDA->Wrist Strap->Implant... but I think that should be a seperate thread. I'd like to stay with the struggle) (;
     
  5. leifh

    leifh Mobile Consultant

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    lThanks, I hope you like it and I look forward to your feedback. :)
     
  6. santori1

    santori1 Mobile Deity

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    that is a heavy issue you are dealing with. r u sure you r not obsessive/compulsive;)

    you are thinking way too much about it. get on with life!!!!:D
     
  7. leifh

    leifh Mobile Consultant

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    Hi Santori,
    Yes it is a heavy issue.
    I guess I've never really known a 'heavy issue' to be much helped by just ignoring it. Usually it means asking tough questions, giving tough honest answers, and often making difficult choices and changes.


    "Getting on with life" is exactly what I'd like to do...but when I compare the kind of real life I experience with more fulfilling things to the 'virtual life' of screen technologies...the problem arises.

    Thanks, but maybe give the post another read (or the paper!) (;

    Cheers,
    -Leif
     
  8. Double-Trinity

    Double-Trinity Mobile Deity

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    As I currently don't have much else planned for this (semi-late) Saturday Night, I decided to download this thing and give it a quick read, Overall, the paper itself made some great connections to Lord of the Rings, one of the best Book/Movie Combo's in whicih I have read up to the end of the Two Towers.

    As a quick side note: for all three movies I have been reading the books immediately before seeing the movie (as in starting a couple days before and finishing almost up until driving to the theater) followed by watching the films, I figured it woudl offer the unique esperience of reading a book followed by seeing the movie, what changed and so on with the story still fresh in my mind, and so far I have enjoyed doign this immensely, for this reason, and becuase the story itself is fresh on my mind these analogies sunk in pretty well.

    I have pretty much been one of those people who has craved technology, having a PDA has basically, as you said, kept this constantly on-hand. Even my Biblical reading has often been done through the PDA and bible software itself, the idea being to keep this in a central place and to be abel to keep notes, the Bible itself, and so on all central, and to get into more of a pattern of regularity. This is one of those benefits, however, this benefit right here though good in and of itself has brough with it another draw, and lure in the medium itself.

    Another example which I have heard of is this:

    Solitaire.

    The entire game, both the Card Game version, and now, the version on every computer, PDA, Cell-Phone, and Music player, pretty much covering every base of the technologically inclined. This game does absolutely NOTHINGH but waste time! when sitting around it can be a way to kill time, but in the end it often kills far more time than you'd hoped, however, if you think about it, what positives are offered by solitaire? It is an almost thoughtless game, pretty much the epitomy of passivity, as wall as anti-social behavior, after all, it is a game for one, Solitaire. For this reason it is ironic that this by definition time-waster is found on nearly every electronic 'time saving' device there is, not to mention machines at work, which can be a tempting distraction from responsibility (well, this goes for more than just solitaire, another HUGE one can be posting on internet forums... I know probably most of you probably didn't want me to say that one...).

    The consolidation of devices, which seems to be big trend, all centered on the Land of Redmond... Where the Shadows Lie. Over the next ten years .NET pretty much promises to consolidate the Pocket PC, Smartphone, Laptop, Desktop computer, and home entertainment devices (ultimate TV, XBox, etc.), little tributaries, into a massive river of a single system, wihch means all the collective divesions that exist on all of these system will be combined, available within 50 meters on nearly every part of the glove.

    I think thsi trend is a great reason to realize that Technology has to be a tool, not an obsession or even a religion (eg book titles like "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs"...) in and of itself, the problem with idolizing of anything, and the thesis of that paper.

    This is definitely true, antoher example true for me is running... although it is an active and good exercise, there is always a desire to bring with me a portable music player... and one with solitaire on it no less...

    finally, the drive to acutally read this thing, and the computer I am actually using to facilitate the entire priocess is the very thing trying to be avoided... at least... as an obsession/addiction. This creates an interesting paradox.

    Here is an interesting question for most of you, when was the last time when you can honestly say you came home to an empty house, and went withouth turning on a TV, Computer, stereo system, radio, PDA, or some other form of electronic device within a short duration of time?

    I asked myself that and the honest answer was "The last time the power was out"
     
  9. santori1

    santori1 Mobile Deity

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    I did not intend to minimize that with which you struggle. I read your paper on the subject relating Tolkien's trilogy to technology. It was interesting. I most liked the comparison of the Palintiri stones to modern technology and the pitfalls and perils associated with it.
    I agree that technology has a dark side (internet porn, hate-literature, etc.) But I believe that your view is a fatalistic one.
    Remember, at the end of the day, when you are done looking at your pocket pc, typing on your computer, calling your loved ones, driving home...... using all that technology, your still human. I believe it is a matter of choice, and making good choices is at the root of all human endeavor.
    Your paper is thought provoking and should serve as a warning. I think it would have served your purpose even better to play devil's advocate and talk about the positive roles that technology plays in society today (Medical Science, Internet Information Availability, etc.) that help to forge a better quality of life. Yes, quality of life is subjective, but nonetheless, It can be argued that people live longer, healthier lives based on the choices they make, and some of these choices were provided through information brought by technology.

    Interestingly, I just finished reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy on my pocket pc!!!!! Fascinating!


    Now, your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a paper contrasting technology to the movie, "The Matrix"!



    :D
     
  10. loranthony

    loranthony ONE!

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    Leif,

    The evident future state is ubiquitous computing, that begins to disappear as a technology that we are cognizant of and becomes part of us.

    When is the last time you spent time contemplating how the microwave cooked your food, or what RF QAM [Modulation] scheme is being utilized to deliver your favorite cable channel, or if your long distance call is being routed via a Nortel DMS tandem switch or a Lucent 5ESS.

    My point is it just works - so many on this board are over concerned with the esoterica of the technology, vs what it can do for you - and also too quick to feed the relentless innovation machine - which routinely abandons the old technology as it advances with the next iteration [this cycle is moving faster every year - because of consumer demand, and corporate lust for quarter over quarter profits and market share].

    PDA's are stone tablets to the eventual cyborgism of the future. I do not fear it, but one must not let it consume.

    Take a look at generation x, y & z and how they have pierced themselves to heck, do you think when they are able to add memory augmentation, ready knowledge database chips .... et all , to their bodies they will even flinch. Hell Hollywood has already made sexy the body interfaces in the Matrix - I mean who wouldn't want a gaping hole in the back of their head to jack into the machine - If you could be near omnipotent as NEO.

    I look forward to the innovation of computing, to enhance my life, not take from it, I still love the outdoors, I still run outdoors most everyday when the weather is nice, and sometimes when not.

    The soul often weathers the changes of our world without necessarily being abrogated by it.

    Some day in the future we will build quaint shops that have wood kiosks with nature sounds, and nature scape's, and we will visit them from our office buildings just to touch the wood.


    I am more worried about the corporate worlds exploitation of us, non privileged non executive class of people, we feed their impropriety and greed thru our obsession for technological gadgets that do not necessarily provide the extensible computing enhancement that I mentioned earlier. And we feed wall street with our 401k dollars that flow like water into the pockets of the few who have hoarded so much more than they will ever need.

    ......so this was a bit randomized and rambling.....but captures some of my ideas in response to your thesis.


    I will be curious what others think - nice thread to get the brain working a little.


    Loranthony
     
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