Technology should serve people, not the other way around

This essay is a repost from a Medium story.

I’ve known computers since I was about 5 or 6. It was the year 1995. My father’s workplace was the only place I could see computers at the time. Paperboy, Prince of Persia, and Oregon Trail were among the MS-DOS games he introduced me to. But it wasn’t the games or interactive graphics that drew me in, but rather the machine itself. I recall being enthralled by Windows. I’m fascinated by how it looked, how it worked, and the simple yet effective applications it contained. In 1998, we finally got our own computer with a dial-up internet connection.

For me, the computer was my only means of self-expression. With text, images, and sounds, I could create whatever I wanted. With audio files like .mp3 and .wav, as well as video files like Quicktime and Windows Media, I could listen to whatever music I wanted. mIRC was the only way I could communicate with people from all over the world. Even if they were in another country, I was able to share my thoughts and opinions with them. I didn’t have many friends in school back then because I preferred interacting with the keyboard.

The internet and technology have become obsessions for us. PCs, mobile phones, laptops, and smart devices have exploded in popularity over the last two or three decades. From the classroom to the bedroom, the internet had spread. We spend the majority of our time in front of a computer or on a mobile device. The majority of people spend far more time in front of a screen than they do outdoors.

True, technology is altering our lifestyles, but it also requires us to alter our lifestyles. It’s exhausting to be told that technology is working for us, not against us, all of the time. It’s all too easy to fall into this mindset and fail to recognise that it’s illogical.

We worship technology so much that we sometimes lose sight of its purpose. What can technology help me with? Is it possible for it to assist me in expressing myself more effectively? Is it capable of assisting me in interacting with people I have never met before anywhere in the world? Is it possible for technology to manipulate, control, and shape people’s lives? Yes, that is correct.

We are the product in the economy of attention. We are the resource that technology is consuming. By using technology such as the internet, we are giving up our privacy and freedom. Technology is working for us rather than against us. With each passing year, it gains more and more control over our lives, but we are completely unaware of it.

We are distracted from what we are doing right now by notifications, apps, and alerts on our mobile devices and computers. These are meant to draw our attention away from the rest of the world. Our focus is broken down into very small chunks. On our mobile devices and computers, we divide our attention between various notifications, apps, and alerts, or even multiples of each. Finally, being online has become an obsession for us. We just can’t seem to stop ourselves. We now try to avoid interacting with people in real life as much as possible.

And we don’t realise how much of our attention and technology we give away until we lose something. One of the most prominent examples is social media. We quickly share the most memorable events in our lives with others. That is, after all, what it is supposed to be. Some people, on the other hand, only share their happiest moments online in order to make others believe they are doing well.

We should not be defined by technology, but rather by how we use it and what we can accomplish with it. To put it another way, technology must be centred on humans rather than the other way around.

Allow yourself to be free.

Photo by Julian Jagtenberg from Pexels