I was listening to the the TED radio hour on NPR this afternoon, talking about screen time, and how it is changing people. One of the speakers was working to develop technology that would read our emotions. She wants our devices to say things like "Are you ok? You haven't laughed in four days." Another speaker suggested that we are becoming a new type of animal, different from Homo sapiens because our tools have changed so much.
It makes me afraid to think that people are becoming so dependent on technology that we need technology to evaluate our emotional health -- instead of friends being concerned about us. Amber Case discussed that the screen is an evolution of the tools our Paleolithic ancestors used to extend our hands (hammers), teeth (knives) and brains (cave paintings). But the episode also talked about how differently we think when time is altered by constant communication from our screens/phones. We are eternally receiving messages about deliveries arriving elsewhere, actions we have to take some other time. We aren't living in the present and some of us are un-learning to live in the present, in my opinion.
I'm not saying that all technology is bad. I'm terribly fond of a great deal of it. But I am concerned about how dependence on screens, and technology, can separate us from people just as we think it is bringing us together. Perhaps a minimal use of technology is a more prudent approach -- use as much as we need, but don't let the technology become an end in itself. Much as so many things are better taken as a means to an end, and not the end in itself.
So I will put away my computer, and spend the evening with my family. A friend gave us a blackberry apple crisp, and I will go enjoy it in real time.