Every now and then, I run into the old-fashioned idea that easy access to technology promotes isolation. Every other week, someone decides to make a post on how we’re losing our social skills due to technology. We are to blame. Let’s stop blaming technology. We look for comfort. We look for ways to escape boredom. What we do is consume media, may it be through newspapers, books, radio, TV or nowadays laptops, tablets and cellphones. Congratulations if you are creative enough to produce some media yourself as well.
We have a relationship with our media. Since I was a kid, my family used to listen to The Beatles during road trips. During my holiday break, my sister explained how she couldn’t stand listening to my playlist of The Beatles because I had foolishly put it in alphabetical order on a playlist in my phone. The way she was used to listening to it was in the order of the album. I re-sorted my playlist and I have to accept that it sounds “right”. That’s what was missing. It’s nostalgia to its fullest.
When I travel, I need a lot of media with me. Some of it is new, some of it I have as “comfort media” – the songs and the movies that I can safely go to for entertainment when I’m really in need of brain candy. Say for instance, I get stuck in an airport for a 10 hour layover. That’s the time to enjoy an entire season of Mythbusters, the entire run of Sherlock or my favorite episodes of Doctor Who. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and only have audio. The comedy albums of Mitch Hedberg work great in such a case. You can even read a book. That’s still media and the printing press was still technology just so you know.
Does it isolate me from the world? Yes. And no. Lots of people bond through the media they know. But at the same time, travel can suck when you’re stuck in a small seat in coach trying to zone out so you don’t hear the screaming baby a couple of rows behind you. Isolation is required when the environment is obnoxious and irrelevant. Isolation is not required in the middle of a family meeting, so you do have to be responsible about when and where to play with your phone. I will accept young kids are not the wisest about choosing those situations, but grownups should know better.
It’s really all about time management. Long stretches of a road are incredibly boring without your favorite playlist. Layovers without an entire season of your favorite show will last forever. You don’t get to play Angry Birds at your aunt’s funeral even if you were not close with her. That’s something you’d have to tell a nine-year-old, but if you are an adult then it’s not your phone that is to blame. It’s you.
I don’t demonize technology. It allows me to access my media while I’m on the go. My media and me have a bond. It saves me from long hours of waiting, commuting, traveling and just sitting in a room. It’s organized just the way I want it. If you’re not mature enough to know when to pay attention and when to zone out, then I guess someone has to be the responsible adult and take technology from you. Don’t come preaching the evils of technology to me.
That will do for now.