Column: “Will There Be A Tech Backlash?”

September 17, 2015

[Opinion column written by Jeremy Deacon]

For almost two weeks while the builders were in, the Deacon family had no internet access during the weekends and evenings: no TV, no emails; no games, no social media. Nada.

The withdrawal symptoms were startling, not quite the shakes and the cold sweats but a sense of loss and of not knowing what to do with myself. My poor old Minecraft addicted nine year old son was worst hit – he must have asked me ten times a day for several days to fix the internet connections.

Then we settled down. I read two and a half books [meaty ones], my son also got stuck into books, my daughter did a lot of cooking and we played games together as a family. It was actually a lot of fun.

It started me thinking – could I do without my tech gadgets or at least could I put them down and leave them alone for more than ten minutes?

Government this week released its State of ICT in Bermuda report  and according to a press release: “The 2014/15 report confirms that technology is a fundamental part of Bermuda life. Its use drives and facilitates much of what is done on a daily basis: at school, at work, and at home.”

It showed that 99% of businesses and 89% of households have access to the internet [how good the quality of that access is might form the basis for another column….] and 85 percent of households owned a smartphone [my bet would be that virtually everyone in a household owns a smartphone.]

We are bombarded with news and adverts about yet more new products whether it’s the latest intelligent refrigerator, the driverless car or the latest Apple update. 

It is never ending and cleverly done so the consumer feels it is important to have these products in their lives, whether they are needed or not.

Writing in the Huffington Post some time ago, Dr Jim Taylor, Adjunct faculty, University of San Francisco, posed the question of whether there would be a technology backlash.

In the article he writes of his belief in the Law of Unintended Consequences, which he said, suggest that “we can’t predict how innovations will impact us individually or collectively”.

Most pertinently he writes: “We’ve become performers in our own personal reality-TV show rather than participants in our own lives. We are promoting ourselves on social media rather than expressing ourselves in person. We are so busy recording special moments in our lives that we are missing those special moments in our lives. Our children are playing with their parents’ [or, even worse, their own] smartphones rather than actually playing. We are getting closer to people far away from us, but farther away from those close to us.”

In the UK, a recent survey showed that 47 percent of those questioned said they did not need any more tech in their lives, compared to 33 percent questioned six months earlier.

Thirty-five per cent of those questioned, dreaded having to learn a new technology [I get that …] up ten percent on the last survey. In other words, it’s just getting harder and harder to keep up.

The vast advances in technology just in the last 20 years are reaping enormous benefits and will continue to do so in ways that will transform our lives for the good. But will there come a time when we want – or demand – a rest from the 24/7 interconnected, instant gratification lifestyle?

Dr Taylor suggest a few areas where you can unplug from the 24/7 life, which I for one will be trying and will be encouraging my family to try [including the Minecraft addict]

  • In bed [whatever you’re doing, resist that urge to check your inbox]
  • At meals [don’t pick up your phone to text someone]
  • On the toilet [be honest ……]
  • Reading a book [try paper…]
  • Studying or working [unless you need to]
  • Socializing [leave the phone at home and talk…]
  • In nature [listen to the tweet of the birds, leave the other tweets at home]
  • Limit the time you allow children to play on computers
  • Sporting events [show a real interest …]

Believe me, the benefits outweigh the withdrawal symptoms. Now, where did I leave my book ……?

What do you think? Leave a comment or email jdeacon@northrock.bm

- Jeremy Deacon is a 30-year veteran of the media industry and currently runs public relations company Deep Blue Communications, www.deepbluecommunications.bm. He also freelances for publications in Bermuda and overseas, and is also the Executive Officer of the Media Council of Bermuda.

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Comments (5)

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  1. swing voter says:

    here is my 2 cents….next time call all of the service providers, tell them what you require, and let them know which ever shows up first wins the prize.

  2. Realist says:

    Everything in moderation

  3. mj says:

    good article…I hope people will consider the lifestyle we have adapted to and at what cost..

  4. aceboy says:

    About 6 or 7 years ago we cut cable off. The kids were watching TV instead of doing homework, the TV in the kitchen meant no talking or family interaction during meals and my wife was going to *lose it* if she was subjected to Spongebob’s laugh any more.

    It worked, to a degree….before they realised there was youtube and Netflicks available on their laptops. But the biggest impact I noticed was when Christmas rolled around for the next two years after we shut off the cable. We’d ask the kids what they wanted for Christmas and they would shrug and say “I don’t know”. That was odd given that the years before cable was shut off we had demands for every toy under the sun.

    The TV was telling the kids what they wanted for Christmas. Take that away and the “want” disappeared.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Great article Jeremy. So true that people don’t participate they perform or promote what’s happening. I find that people aren’t really living in the moment for the sheer enjoyment of the experience. Instead they stop to tell everyone on social media. The biggest concern is for our youth. Parents are buying smartphones for their 8 year olds and then we wonder why young people are disconnected, unable to handle face to fce communication, struggle with spelling and sentence structure and have a “me me me” mentality that is sometimes bred by vanity that social media promotes. Families and friends are dining with phone in hand as opposed to talking and enjoying each other’s company. Social media has so mamy benefits but we need to be mindfull of the downfalls and balance online time.