We live amidst a thriving world of technology, where individuals across every spectrum want their own gadgets; devices have taken a central role in society, seemingly eclipsing other aspects of culture. Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master, and our use may have surpassed our humanity. The devotion to our devices, to the constant pressure of the latest and greatest, to an inane beckoning online world, they all have the potential to kill the real relationships we have with others by soaking up all our time. To see just how dangerous the excessive use of technology can be, I interviewed Mando, who has struggled with tech addiction for many years.
Mando Lange is an independent mother of two kids, and her hobbies are physical training, bushwalking, and swimming. She has lived in Australia for 14 years, and in that time, fallen in love with the environment here. We began by discussing what technology she still uses in her day-to-day life, “I am very much influenced by gadgets, as I use my mobile phone and laptops at work and at home. My phone more than anything, really. I need it to connect with my family who live in our home country. All up, I am probably on a device for more than 3 hours a day online shopping, checking personal emails and messages, and playing games to refresh myself. Even when I have lots of work waiting on me, I occasionally struggle to stay focused, and instead get sucked into my phone. While it is a daily part of my life I couldn’t function without, I think it’s unhealthy I spend so long on my devices.”
Mando reflected on how life was before the widespread uptake of technology, and how life is now, “I like meeting people in person and spending quality time with each other, enjoying food and drinks; it makes relationships stronger. With everyone’s busy lives, it is the bitter truth of today’s world that we make plans and end up meeting virtually on social platforms. I do not know what to do besides playing with my phone or completing a task. I can use my gadgets for the whole day, and I will not get bored of them. However, when my kids need help, I will always put my phone down and attend to them, they are my first priority.”
“We meet after a long time, we are still glued to our phones and miss time being together”, Mando continued, as she broke down how digital obsession has impacted her relationships with others and with herself. “It is like we are getting used to virtual life and we do not enjoy being around people and crowds. It is not only affecting our relationships but also our sleeping and eating patterns. People cannot stop scrolling their phones knowing it's time to sleep and end up waking up late in the morning which eventually disturbs eating patterns. Excessive use of gadgets has not affected my mental health, however, I get angry and sad with the information that I read online, and it can negatively affect me.”
“Simply giving all of our time to technology is not beneficial as it perpetuates laziness. We ask Google to do almost everything for us rather than doing it ourselves. We could spend some time to type things out ourselves, but we often would rather make our life easy and ask gadgets to do it for us. People used to be proficient in spelling and grammar before but now it is different. We hardly remember some spelling.”
We cannot deny the fact that modern gadgets have brought both positive and negative aspects to today's world. After COVID-19, the world drastically changed, and for a while, everything had to shut down including education and businesses. However, to overcome these losses, the world moved to a virtual space where people could work and study safely. Mando is glad that innovation of modern technology made her life easier, and people could continue their work and study which encouraged workers and students to explore different apps and the ways that technology could help them in unique ways. On the other hand, technology can be misused to bully, hurt, harass, or scam; all of which have a real, tangible consequence on the wellbeing of others.
To conclude the interview, I asked Mando about the ways community members can be better informed on the social problem of technology addiction, to which she responded, “Gadgets play a vital role in our life, and it is difficult for people to stay away from them. We should focus on balancing the time to use gadgets and the time to maintain our relationship with the outside world, friends, and family. Furthermore, interacting with people when they are around and valuing their presence rather than prioritising gadgets. Simply enjoy the time together.”
I believe that too much of everything is always harmful. No doubt technology has the power to run the modern world, but it is also taking humanity away from people. There is less attachment, less emotion, and more isolation in virtual life. It is making people lazy day by day, and has pronounced impacts on people’s wellbeing and thinking capacity. However, having said that, we cannot ignore the advantages of modern gadgets. It is not possible to keep people away from using gadgets in the present world as the world has turned to virtual space. Instead, balancing the use of gadgets and maintaining relationships would be a better solution to minimise this social issue. We must make sure that in the pursuit of progress and productivity, we do not lose our humanity.