One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more positive regarding technology: embrace it, stop complaining, and learn how to use it. That was The List. Well, I have embraced it to some degree, I have begun complaining less and indeed, I have increased my skills somewhat. But (spoiler alert, I’m gonna complain a little), I can’t help thinking that our dependence on technology is diminishing our sensory presence in the world around us. Technology has definitely made the world feel smaller, but are we becoming slightly immune to our senses as we live part-time (or even full-time) in the land of virtual life? Is it becoming harder to distinguish in our memories what we have actually lived and what we have merely experienced on a screen? No answers here, just questions.
I was recently sitting in my car with the windows down, enjoying an unbelievably warm and beautiful day in February. My daughter was next to me playing a game on her phone and I was breathing deeply, soaking up the balmy air and listening to the birds singing. I looked over at her, loving her madly but wishing she was able to take in what I was enjoying so much. I decided to play one of my little technology-hating, sarcastic head games with her and said, “Gosh, all that’s missing with this weird weather is to hear birds singing.” Fully expecting her to say, “Ya,” and remain glued to her screen, she looked up and said, “What are you talking about? They’re singing like crazy.”
So much for my sensory shutdown theory. Could it be possible that brains are just learning to take in more, all at once? Maybe the need to be plugged in and still live one’s life will cause the brain to develop differently – and better. Who knows, perhaps someday I’ll be able to watch a football game on my IPhone, apply Chapstick, answer a text and stop to smell the roses all at once. This could yield a whole new intellect for the future. Or will it just mean that I’ll be smearing Chapstick on my chin and sending poorly-worded texts while sniffing rose leaves and missing the winning the touchdown? Time will tell.
But for now, I think I’ll just enjoy my one-track brain and listen to the birds.