The Personal Cost of Computer Technologies

Engaging with the vast amount of computer technologies has cost humans their attention spans, free-time and, in some cases, relationships.

| February 2015

Want to cut yourself off from your smartphone, laptop, computer or other technological device? In The Joy Of Missing Out (New Society Publishers, 2014), author Christina Crook considers the modern life surrounded by computer technologies, with its impact on communities, health, relationships and work. Crook suggests ways for those who are looking for an opportunity escape technology's grasp to break away from it. This excerpt, which discusses how the internet has grown into an oppressive aspect of human life, is from Chapter 4, “Dusting off the Dictionary: Why Definitions Matter.”

I came of age in a time before Google.

I remember the day I signed up for my first email address in my senior high school computer lab. Pickings were slim as I combed Yahoo for a pithy name. I settled on “benchfan” (my grade 12 boyfriend chose it; he was in a fledgling band called, you guessed it, Bench) thinking nothing would become of this strange computer mail. As it turned out, “benchfan” would serve me for nearly a decade, through several years of university and beyond.

The Growth of Computer Technologies

My first email experiences were astoundingly memorable. An early romance budded by way of after-date messages. I recall the thrill of sitting in front of our downstairs family computer, heart pounding, waiting for that assured good night message. Back then, getting an email was like Christmas morning.

How things have changed. Today, email is our great nemesis, the volume crushing. With 200+ messages a day, “Inbox Zero” — the mythological pursuit of processing every message every day — is as fleeting as the tinker fairies of my daughter’s imagination: cute, but unreal.

Our earliest computer technologies, once boxy stationary items, have shrunk to the size of a palm and can travel with us everywhere. Where, at one time, people demanded raises when an employer required round-the-clock access via a BlackBerry, now this kind of availability is an unwritten rule (and employees have to provide their own device!). Employers are to blame for their lack of boundaries, and we are for our complicity.

11/3/2015 5:38:13 AM

I was hoping to come up with some witty comment, but my mind has clicked away... In truth, I am a minimal internet user, my email is well-managed, and I might be theonly one I know who does not own a cellphone, let alone a smartphone. I cna rarely admit this, because I work in Info Tech at a university. thanks for this grounding and interesting article.

7/31/2015 11:00:41 AM

The way to disengage from the always on world is to get back to nature pure and simple. I hike in the area around Northern VA and ride my bike. I have my cell phone in my backpack for emergencies but never answer a call while hiking or biking. The WEB age is amazing and has become a way to depopulate the world. How many time have you seen people talking or texting on their phone while driving and not paying attention? Now, the cops check for cell phone usage after an accident. Here is the Washington, DC area, groups of young hoodlums would swoop down as passengers departed from the Metro subway at the Chinatown exit. It was easy: Passengers would be texting or talking on their iPhones or using their IPADs as they exited the subway car and were total disengaged from the her and now.If you had a SAMSUNG, you were safe. Easy to sell Apple products ion the gray market. The majority of people in the USA have no street sense: they operate in the ozone when on their phones. I have a grandson that is upset when the WiFi does not work. Summary: The Internet globalization has caused us to truly detach our genes from nature, as they were originally designed. Nature Deficit Disorder is what is killing us.