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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Connect with People not Technology

Today brings the launch of another iPhone iteration (the iPhone 5, if you're that far out of the loop), and it reminds me about how we ought to be using technology.

What happens is that we fall in love with our things.
"I love my iPhone."
"I love my Android."
"I love my TV."
"I love my computer."
Or, we end up hating the technology when it doesn't work right. Either way, we're connected to the stuff in an emotional way. That's because people are meant to create emotional connections.

Our brains are a mishmash of cross-wiring. We don't just remember facts, we connect all of our senses and emotions to the events surrounding those facts. We don't remember a person's face, but we have a complex web of feelings and impressions that surround that person in our mind. Human beings are, of necessity, emotional creatures. Our emotions work to help us identify danger or repeat good experiences. They connect us to community and protect us from isolation.

Unless we start applying our emotions to things instead of people. It's not bad to love the tools you use. As a carpenter about the difference between hammers. He'll pick the one he loves, the one that's served him well. The one that's on its third handle since he's owned it. But loving our tools over and above people is a tragedy.

All the technology that surrounds us gives us an unparalleled ability to connect with each other. We can text, Skype, Facebook and email all the time, from anywhere. But an ever increasing part of the emotions that we feel are being applied not to people but to things. We divorce humanity from technology and we lose the point.

I'm not saying we should get off Facebook or stop watching TV, but we should use technology with our eyes open. We know what it is and we know what it's doing. If we use it as a tool and we use it to connect with people, then it helps us all. But if we let our emotional connections stop with the things, we are impoverished.

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