“Are we creating technology to make a better world, or an easier one?"
Technology is very much a double sided sword. As someone who grew up under the consistent temptations of technology, I am well aware of the pros and cons of technology as applied to my life. As I grew and developed into my own self, so did the technological devices I used. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever stop, even though I already know that answer.
It’s hard for me to admit this, but I am also aware of how addictive technology is within my daily life. I am never without my phone, my marketing career is based around digital platforms, and I am always dialed into the next “big thing.” I think this addiction and feeling of necessity is due to two main components of rhetoric we have discussed in class and readings: network and identification.
Sometimes it seems as if everyone has forgotten how networking was actually utilized before social media existed. Rather than making friends and gaining followers online, face-to-face and over-the-phone communication was the only way to network with others. Today, networking is used as a digital tool, rather than a communicational one. It’s how we feel connected with others. We feel as though we will not have a network without our phones in our hands, and that is a problem.
Without our Facebook pages, laptop backgrounds and online playlists, I’m afraid we as a society will forget who we are. Technology is a crutch to help us put something tangible out there to identify ourselves. Rather than finding confidence within to assure ourselves of who we are, we post a photo on Instagram to see how many likes we get within 24 hours.
I am completely and utterly guilty of all of this, and I will never pretend that I am not. I was socialized this way, but I also have enough sense to recognize how technology has impacted my life. The good and the bad ways. Which is why the question of sofalarity really fascinated me.
I am not here to provide an answer to the question of sofalarity. Frankly, I don’t think there is a perfect way to answer that question without inspiring a hundred different arguments. I do believe, however, everyone can personally take steps in their lives to limit their use and the impact of technology in their lives. This can be in minuscule or substantial ways, but the effort and thought process is a good place to start regardless.
I try to do this in my daily life in a fairly minuscule way, that still answers the question of sofalarity and addresses the rhetorical impact of technology in developing who I am:
I read actual books. I hold the book, smell the book, feel how many pages I have read, and in no way do I use technology to do this.
My parents have tried to get me to convert to using a Kindle for a long time now. It makes no sense to them why I don’t use technology to read, since there are millions of books at my fingertips within that device. I look to this example to answer the question of sofalarity. Is reading from a Kindle going to better my reading experience, or simply make it an easier one?
I enjoy the process completely. Choosing the book, feeling the pages. I feel a sense of that networking and identification when I walk throughout the mystery novel section or discuss my favorite books with my roommate. When I am reading a book, I am no longer in tune with the digital world, and I am completely immersed in the story between the pages. Frankly, it feels good to know I could be using technology for the same purpose, but I choose not to, even if it’s not a popular decision with my family.
My point is, there are many ways we can network, identify ourselves and better our lives without technological help. While we may be addicted to our iPhones, and personally I probably always will be, it’s okay to enjoy disconnecting a little bit every day. I challenge you all to try to alter your life in a way that helps you do this. It doesn’t have to be substantial, but it should be purposeful.
We can make changes in our lives to make them easier, but we should focus on making ourselves better above all else. We are so much more than the devices we carry, even if that is hard to see sometimes due to the rhetoric that is connected with technology.