Let’s go on a journey back in time. Not far back, but far enough to when digital technology was fresh and new; added fun and functionality to our lives; and for the most part held visions of something exciting with endless possibilities – A time when concerns about invasion of privacy were non-existent.
I would liken the first time most of us engaged in the world of digital technology (via game console, computer, or mobile phone) to sitting down to enjoy a glass of fresh lemonade.
Lemonade has been trending for centuries. It has never grown old and most people like it as much today as the first time they had it. Even though society has gone through many ups and downs regarding the “value” of lemonade, it has always maintained a subtle mystery of desire to those who thirst. The only downfall for the connoisseurs of classic lemonade is it’s evolution from farm fresh to corporate controlled – in other words, the inclusion of additives and preservatives that supposedly improve taste and lengthen the “freshness” – yet mostly hand over control to the corporations to extend their profits.
Digital technology has trended in much the same way (except much more quickly). Currently IoT, or The Internet of Things, is taking a commanding lead in the digital technology sphere. IoT includes anything that has its base ties to a “device” that “connects to the online world”. This most obviously includes smart phones & computers and less understood – other devices bought in the last ten years that are digitally run – from your TV and video games, to your washing machine and toaster. The connivance of all of this digitally controlled technology is fabulous and most of us couldn’t even think of living our lives without it. But why does this newfound freedom of efficiency seem to be tangled up with an underlying feeling of loss?
Recently I had a doctor’s appointment and often as office appointments go, I had to sit and wait a bit. I engaged with my mobile devices for several minutes and then was drawn to the colorful magazines lined up on the wall. Suddenly a warm flashback washed over me, and I entered a time warp back to my childhood. A time when one of the only exciting parts of going to the doctor’s office was having the opportunity to flip through what seemed like an endless variety of “unpurchased” colorful magazines that we didn’t have access to elsewhere. It was curiously stimulating having the freedom to flip through hundreds of gorgeous photos in high-fashion magazines and take-in the most recent VIP chatter of every gossip magazine and version of “People” available. Yet as I reminisce on it now, the purveying feeling was one of freedom – freedom to ethically dive into someone else’s world without anyone recording I was there.
With our current IoT technology, we have been given the freedom to take the world with us everywhere we go. We also have access to world breaking news and trends with the click of a button. However, with that gain has also come loss. We no longer have the freedom to explore our own interests anonymously. With our access to unlimited information has come corporate control – where each click/flip sends “valuable statistics” about us back to the corporate gatekeepers’ of boundless information.
Freedom is a driving force in human nature. The very premise behind the evolution of all technology is one of freeing people from tasks that were previously limiting, time-consuming, and confining. This makes it all the more interesting that while reading magazines and reminiscing in that doctor’s office, I recognized I felt relief in knowing that for a moment again my every move was not being captured.
Digital technology has forever, permanently changed our world. There is no going back. But as with fresh lemonade, you can demand that the corporations offer you the organic version, free of the corporate controls of additives and preservatives. I hope we will always have that choice when it comes to our technologically advancing world.
I assure you, I could not go a day without my daily dose of tech-driven information. But I will always reminisce on the “freedom to dream, without being seen” of those unconnected days gone by.
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