Have you ever stepped back to consider how much of our daily lives revolve around technology? Seventy-nine percent of the U.S. population between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four have their smartphone with them for at least 22 hours out of the day. Eighty-percent of individuals that own a smartphone check it before brushing their teeth in the morning.
These staggering statistics tell me that we’re closer than ever to the computer / human hybrid. I mean, think about it, your phone is basically an extension of your arm. I freak out if I leave my phone behind in a taxi or a restaurant. The thought of missing a text, a Facebook message or facetime call has prompted me to run upstairs and grab my phone.
1. Time Management – The Double Edged Sword
But, for all the craziness that smartphones have brought into my life, I have to give my iPhone some serious credit. It’s saved me from missing a multitude of meetings, or rushing back to the office to answer an email on my desktop. The convenience factor that smartphones give us is powerful.
Although, it’s a dangerous benefit, because it blurs the lines between home and office. In 2009, Oliver Perkins wrote a powerful article for The Plain Dealer. Because it’s a slightly older article, she makes a lot of references to blackberry. But, beyond the outdated handset, the points she makes were almost psychic.
Today, I work 24/7. If I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’m taking my phone with me. And you better bet I’m checking my email to see if my team has sent me any important information in the late night and early morning hours. Psychologically, this phenomenon is leading to mental fatigue, because we’re always “on”.
2. Money-Saving Opportunities
While we may worry about losing our free-time, one thing our technology is saving us is money. Think about your last call to a friend or family member overseas. I bet it was totally free; thanks to VOIP services like Skype, ooVoo and Whatsapp. When you fill up your car with gas, your smartphone can help you find the cheapest pump; and it will provide directions so you don’t waste any extra gas getting there.
And, speaking of money, there’s even the potential for technology to earn money on your behalf. Sound crazy? Not so far off, says Dan Partridge, CMO of BinaryRobot365. According to Dan Partridge, “…artificial intelligence has advanced to the stage that complex algorithms can be used to create automated systems that trade financial instruments, like binary options, with an 85% win-rate. Humans won’t be able to compete in the coming age of automated investing and financial management.”
The ability for an incredibly smart human to program a complex machine and virtually print money is the making of yesterday’s fantasies, but more than likely, today’s realities.
3. Virtual Friendships and Relationships
How many social media platforms have popped up in the past few years? Whisper, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and so many more. As individuals, we are living in an ironic world where we are more social than ever, but also more physically isolated than any time in recent memory.
When was the last time you said hello to someone at the store? If you’re anything like me, trips to get groceries and other retail items are missions with the primary objective of getting in and out of the store as quickly as possible.
But, virtually, relationships are thriving. Dating apps are bringing new opportunities for soulmates to finally find each other. The amazing wonders we see in our daily lives can be shared instantly with those closest to us, or a million strangers. Point, tap, share. You’re now internet famous!
The power of the internet has transformed both our physical and virtual reality. Some would argue it’s all for the worse, but I see a mixed bag. I feel like virtual reality gives us the security to let down our guard and share personal details with people more freely. But, if those relationships and moments never progress beyond a 4-inch screen, I think we’ve probably lost something valuable: face to face contact.
No matter how you use technology, it’s changed your life. Even if you’ve chosen to ignore it completely, it’s there. Your work forces you to interact with it. And, ignoring it is tantamount to shutting out all of your digitally connected friends.
Looking back at how much has changed in the past 20 years, I wonder how we’ll look back on today in a few decades…