Published on January 27, 2014 | by Valentina de Vito & Karma Symington

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Technology: A help or a hindrance?

headshot of Karma Symington who argues for the use of technology in our everyday lives

Facebook helps Karma get in contact with old friends [Benjamin Bishop]

Karma Symington: technology is a help

At 9am my alarm rings. I sometimes wonder how any of us ever dragged ourselves out of our deep slumber before the invention of the alarm clock. How did people manage without one when they lived in caves?

Today, an electronic device to wake us up or remind us of urgent matters is a must. My own natural body clock would never suffice in this fast-paced, technological world. By 9.30am I have read my emails, scrolled through my Facebook, stalked some interesting people on Instagram, updated my Twitter feed and checked the Daily Mail website. And the best thing? All of this was achieved from the comfort of my own bed, courtesy of my iPhone.

While I may not be the most technologically savvy person (I’m hopeless with website building and my blog is embarrassingly inadequate), I am happy that I can access all of these things. In western society, technology shapes the way we live, work and think, and those who aren’t technologically-abled are left behind. That may be in the professional world, where a potential employer may ask: Are you Mac literate? Can you use Excel, Word and PowerPoint? Those who are not somewhat competent in these things are usually left out of the running for a job.

The same applies to our personal lives. With Facebook’s handy ‘create an event’ option, it’s now possible to invite every single person you have ever met in your life to your birthday party! Well, every single person who also has Facebook.

The good old days

My mum always complains that gone are the good old days of walking to a friend’s house to talk to them. Or having a regimented, set time at a designated meeting place, where you had to be there on time because you didn’t have a mobile phone.

Well, no offence mum, but who wants to walk for half an hour to a friend’s house for them not to be in? Surely, that is a waste of time?

In western society, technology shapes the way we live, work and think, and those who aren’t technologically-abled are left behind.

And then there’s the argument that technology has made us antisocial…No it hasn’t! Facebook chat allows friends to talk for hours on end about anything, and to reconnect with anyone. Recently, a friend who I had not seen or spoken to since I was 6 years old found me on Facebook. Had it not been for social media, we probably would never have spoken again.

Intrusive 

While I advocate technology and social media, I do find that it can be intrusive – but then again, nobody forces anybody to post personal issues on Facebook or Twitter, let alone photos of what they had for dinner.

I remember when I thought I would always prefer tangible objects: magazines, a newspaper, a book. I point blank refused to buy a kindle because I liked to collect the books and keep them for sentimental value.

That was until my sister bought a kindle – and now I am addicted. Now, some may think that ‘addicted’ is a strong word, but it’s true. We are a society of addicts, itching to ‘refresh’ our news feed at any given opportunity.

Technology is the drug of our generation, and the temptation is just too hard to resist.

Head shot of Valentine De Vito who argues against the use of internet in our everyday lives

Valentina says the Internet has turned her into a hypochondriac [Benjamin Bishop]

Valentina De Vito: technology is a hindrance

When I was in primary school I was asked to write a research essay on goldfish. I remember climbing a ladder to the upper shelf of the library and taking down some encyclopaedia volumes. After reading an incredible amount of words I did not know the meaning of, and with the help of my mum, I managed to write an eight-page essay. On goldfish.

After finishing my homework I went out to play in the park with my friends. The most impressive piece of technology I owned was my waterproof Casio G-Shock wristwatch that my Uncle had given me as a present. With its integrated LED, stopwatch and alarm clock, I was so proud of my ‘ultra-technological’ device!

Back then, I did not own a computer. We did have one of those massive Microsoft things that looked like a microwave in my house, but it was my dad’s. Although I never used it, I can remember the crackling noise that the router used to make.

Today

I can appreciate that I was one of those lucky children who had a real childhood.  I feel very sorry for kids these days who only see the world through an iPad screen, or those who only communicate to their friends via text message, WhatsApp or Whatelse.

I recently found a little piece of paper that said ‘I love you. Do you want to be my girlfriend?’ in one of my primary school diaries that I nostalgically store in a shoebox. While the doodle hearts have faded, and the feelings have too, I still own that piece of paper. It’s there. It’s been there for longer than a decade!

Ok, I’ll be honest. I am writing this blog piece from my Macbook and my iPhone is right next to me, buzzing whenever my boyfriend on the other side of Europe sends me pictures of Italian meals or pixelated hearts. I, Valentina de Vito, have become a technology addict.

But I do miss the way life used to be without it, and I’d like to think that one day I’ll abandon this lifestyle to go live on a desert island with no internet connection.

Socialising

Socialising has become a major problem. I used to talk to everybody when I was little. I had so many things to say. I was one of those kids you would define as ‘a real pain in the ass.’

Now I am one of those people who starts playing with their iPhone the second I sit down on a bus.

Whenever I feel slightly ill, I Google my symptoms and find out that I have typhoid.

During Christmas, I was having lunch with my twenty relatives who had reunited for the occasion. I really wanted to capture the memory of that moment, so I took four or five pictures on my smartphone. Then it struck me: We don’t use our memory anymore because we entrust our devices to remember everything for us.

We take photos and upload them on Instagram; we type what we want to remember on our Evernotes app and Facebook kindly reminds us of upcoming birthdays.

FInally, I must say, the internet has turned me into hypochondriac. Whenever I feel slightly ill, I Google my symptoms and find out that I have typhoid.

Overall, I do recognise that the internet and technological devices have improved our lives but, in my opinion, technology has taken over my life, which probably isn’t a good thing…

I’m not sure. Let me Google it.

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