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

  • Computer Technologies
    “We are always on, never off. Constant access isn’t a blessing anymore.”
    Photo by Fotolia/giorgos245
  • The Joy of Missing Out
    Christina Crook inspects the ways that technology has taken over humans’ lives, from its effects on children, relationships, health and work in “The Joy of Missing Out.”
    Cover courtesy New Society Publishers

  • Computer Technologies
  • The Joy of Missing Out

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.

MikeReynolds
9/8/2018 5:26:02 PM

Partway through the article I read the following remark: "What both enthusiast and skeptic miss is . . . that in the long run a medium’s content matters less than the medium itself influencing how we think and act . . . Media work their magic, or their mischief, on the nervous system itself.” When I read that line I immediately recalled the comment by Marshall McLuhan, "... the medium is the message". Then toward the end of the article I saw a reference to Marshall McLuhan. It is refreshing to encounter someone else who values the brilliant insights of McLuhan . . . way ahead of his time.


MikeReynolds
9/8/2018 4:59:28 PM

Partway through the article I read the following remark: "What both enthusiast and skeptic miss is . . . that in the long run a medium’s content matters less than the medium itself influencing how we think and act . . . Media work their magic, or their mischief, on the nervous system itself.” When I read that line I immediately recalled the comment by Marshall McLuhan, "... the medium is the message". Then toward the end of the article I saw a reference to Marshall McLuhan. It is refreshing to encounter someone else who values the brilliant insights of McLuhan . . . way ahead of his time.


DAVIDH
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.




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