Do you really know how to use that gadget?

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Technology controls us if we don’t know how to use it

By April Alayon
Photos by Ben Buckley

Working in an electronic retail store made me despise technology. I don’t carry the latest phone, nor do I have a badass computer set up, because I’ve witnessed first-hand how people can get attached to technology, turning into crazy maniacs obsessing over gadgets. Like any other commodity, we are deceived to think we need these portable technologies, that they will improve our lives.

It is ironic that people would spend hundreds of dollars on technology to keep their social ties closer, but achieve the opposite. This could be part of the reason why people often say that it is hard to meet and make friends in an urban setting like Vancouver. Maybe if people stopped staring at their phones, and acknowledged the person next to them on the train, we could be listed as the friendliest city in the world. But no, instead we prefer to disconnect and isolate ourselves with those little mp3 players, and to display our $200 branded headphones to impress strangers we’ll never speak to.

It boggles my mind whenever I see people line-up for hours outside local electronic retail stores to get a phone that doesn’t even fit your pocket. I understand that the newest tablet computer would get you lots of envious looks from your friends or classmates, but that can only last for a few weeks before a superior one comes out. This will not buy you friends; rather, it will attract thieves. Working long hours at your job to afford that newest phone every month is a bad investment if all you do with that eight-megapixel camera is take pictures of your lunch. Cell phones have generally lost their main purpose: to communicate with people because you have something important or urgent to say. Now, they’re just something we carry around for show.

Does it actually increase our productivity? Not really. There are a bunch of productivity applications for these fancy gadgets so that they can perform tasks in an efficient manner. But installing these applications does not stop you from getting sucked into watching countless hours of Youtube videos, or constantly Facebook-stalking that person from your class. This is why I prefer using pen and paper to take notes in class. Bringing a laptop is like paying $800 so you can surf the Internet or scroll down Pinterest somewhere besides your couch. Faster, better and newer gadgets do not guarantee efficiency if you can’t discipline yourself around technology.

Our society’s obsession with technological advancements is slowly shaping detached relationships between its members. I am not saying that we should reject new technologies, but that technology is changing the way we interact socially. It makes us forget how to interact with respect and value what is truly important. It has turned our society into an insensitive bunch, obsessed with conspicuous consumption, instead of making us better citizens.