Keeping Technology in Perspective

Earlier this month, Apple released the newest iteration of their flagship mobile computer, the Macbook Pro, now completely redesigned and sporting newer, faster versions of their best processor, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. On paper, this is the biggest upgrade to a Mac computer ever, especially when compared to its disappointing preceding generation. These new computers are larger, faster, brighter, smoother, and sport a hyper-immersive display that can refresh up to 120 times per second compared to the 60 frames per second of  previous Apple laptop computers.

The new Pixel 6 smartphones, recently released by Google, promise to offer a great bang-for-your-buck phone. At $600, the standard model Pixel 6 gets you a phone with a powerful processor, great camera, and unique physical design. Step up to the Pixel 6 pro and you get an improved camera, a larger display, and a taller device. The new in-house Tensor chip also promises to give you solid, consistent performance for the coming future.

But how much is too much? The technological world around us is changing at an exponential rate, and most consumers are lost in the storm of new devices. In an age where everyone is engulfed in specifications and features, do the simple things matter anymore?

So much of our daily lives are consumed by these technologies. The first thing many people do after waking up is check their smartphones, then open their laptops or go to work, only to sit at a desktop computer all day. This is by design, as devices have evolved to cover more and more of our daily needs. No longer do cell phones only make calls and texts, but now they surf the web, shop for us, navigate for us, and even act as virtual assistants for many. In years past, you would require a top of the line desktop computer worth thousands of dollars to edit a photo. Nowadays, you can simply open your Macbook, wait 15 seconds for your editing suite of choice to load, and edit away. Editing was once an incredibly specialized process, with computers being tailor-made for this purpose. Nowadays, the vast majority of the computers that are for sale in first world countries can do the same thing. Many applications like this are no longer specialized. With so many things accessible to so many more people, it is only natural that computers would be utilized much more, and distract people from the meaningful experiences that they could have instead of being glued to a monitor for their entire work day.

Many people now fail to appreciate interpersonal social interactions because of these devices. Cell phones can now show you the lives of other people. The catch, however, is that most of these virtual identities are curated are best, completely fabricated at worst, sometimes giving an illusion of a much more fulfilling life than the person’s real one. Someone struggling to pay rent or health insurance could post a picture of themselves overjoyed on a ride at Disney World.  This influences other young adults to show the world their own  “care-free” virtual life, while combatting the same problems. Ultimately, this has the effect of putting even more pressure on these people, who begin to be so consumed by their virtual life and what they post on the Internet that they completely lose sight of what really matters: the experience. This is a small symptom of a much larger disease: modern technology encourages the fabrication of an ideal life, whether it intends to or not.

Regardless of all these flaws, It is imperative not to lose sight of the bigger picture regarding new technologies.  These devices are not intended to negatively influence depression rates or adolescents’ suicides, and yet it seems they inadvertently do.  New devices that make it easier to live in a virtual world encourage destructive behavior and influence bad decisions. 

So as we go on with our everyday lives, what should we keep in mind to avoid these drawbacks of technology? For one, it’s important to take time out of your day to enjoy a conversation with a friend, go for a walk, or simply read a book. All of these options serve as healthy escapes from the endless screen time of our everyday lives. Beyond that, it’s important to realize that social media presents us with unrealistic expectations of who we are as people. For every perfect photo on Instagram, there’s a person hiding away the struggles of their life. Keeping these ideas at the forefront of our minds can allow us to lead fulfilling and healthy lives without being overwhelmed by the technology around us.