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What position have gadgets relegated you to?

July 03, 2013

There is this Technology handle I follow on Twitter called @TechwalkTz, and its subsequent Facebook Fanpage also called Tech Walk. Whoever is behind Tech Walk has really made it easy for us to follow up on what’s going on in the Tech world, without really having to scout the whole Internet for Tech-relevant content. In addition to the content posted on Tech Walk, be it on Twitter or Facebook, what amuses me most is their catch-phrase which says: The Good, The Bad and The Geeky. True to their word, they sometimes have some really geeky stuff up there.

So last week, as I always do while on my way home, I was going through my social media elements and stumbled upon this tweet from @TechwalkTz: “You can control your iPhone with your head in the upcoming iOS 7”. What?!?! For a minute there I was amused and couldn’t help imagining a few scenarios involving people controlling their iPhones with their heads. Imagine you are at the mall, or at the bus-stop, and everyone you are seeing is busy making faces at their iPhones…. Just thinking about it right now makes me crack up; it’s just hilarious. Let’s take our imagination even further; you go upcountry and you start controlling your iPhone using your head, what are the chances that you will not be branded a “witch”? Well, I really don’t know, but as far as I am concerned, as much as I am looking forward to seeing iOS 7 at work, using my head will only be restricted to the confines of my house where everyone already thinks I have a few loose nuts.

Looking at this tweet from @TechwalkTz made me travel back to the olden days before there was a Technological revolution. Life was easy then; there was no undue pressure from any one. Not much was expected of people then because lots of stuff used to be done manually. For instance, there was no email; it was snail mail meaning it could take days before a client or a supplier could get communication from the relevant party. Phones were restricted to landlines, which were quite expensive to acquire and maintain. Besides, only a few could afford them then; The rest of the folks used to queue behind telephone booths. Remember those days when we would give out the telephone number of the nearest booth to our boy/girl friends to get in touch with us? The queues were unimaginably long and of course, tempers used to flare because some people used to hog the booths not wanting to let them go. Thinking about it now, its actually hilarious, well, to me anyway.

Still down memory lane, remember the manual typewriters? The ones whose keys were so stiff that any time you’d use them your fingers would ache for a week thereafter? Imagine being slapped by a lady who was operating those machines day in day out… My grandpa gave me one as a gift before he passed on. I used that machine to teach myself how to type and to-date, I still type more than 100 words per minute. God willing one day, since I still have it in my possession, I hope I will get a chance to demonstrate to my grandchildren how things were before the invasion of smart-gadgets.

Of course I cannot think of the typewriter without thinking of the rubber stamp and inkpad. These were so common in government offices back then, but what used to amuse me about them is how the officials would use them. You see, most of the time they were always malnutritioned ink-wise, meaning, the officials would have to press the stamp really hard onto the inkpad in order to get ink on the stamp. To me, it always looked like some gym workout; for the fist at least.

As my mind travels down the technology memory lane, I can’t help but marvel at how far we have come. Today we even have robots doing stuff instead of humans. Remote control cars have recently been upgraded to drones, and if what I read on @TechwalkTz recently has any truth in it, soon we shall be having cars that park themselves. Now this would be a great investment for the ladies who are challenged when it comes to parking; no more grazing the car in the next parking slot.

But with the advancement in technology has come a complete decline in human relationships. People are more keen on spending quality time with their gadgets than they are keen on spending with their loved ones. Yes, it is sad to note that priorities in the hierarchy of needs have now become misplaced and instead of family, gadgets (read technology) have taken over. If you think am being unfair, just walk into any restaurant right now and see for yourself how many people will be on their smartphones, chatting and communicating with their virtual friends instead of giving their undivided attention to the persons they went to the restaurant with. I mentioned this before in a previous post, when I cited a real life experience I had in a function we were managing. When the MC of the function told people to take time to get to know each other, 90% of the crowd opted to “know” their smartphones better.

This trend is really worrying me. Yes, I have seen it happening in my own life and home. We are becoming more and more dependent on gadget, and less and less on our fellow human beings. As it is, the family unit is already being affected by this trend. Husbands no longer have time for their wives and families; wives on the other hand having been left out of their husbands’ lives have been left to their own devices, making them no better than the men. As a result, the children become affected by the parents’ detachment and in the end they grow up to become directionless adults. If we are complaining about unruly teenagers, can you imagine how it will be a decade from now, if this trend continues?

As we laugh about the geeky stuff technology is bringing our way, and marvel at the wonderful things technology can do for us if used right, let’s not forget the role of the human being in all this. Yes you can hold your smartphone with all the care in the world, making sure it never gets a scratch or gets a drop of water on it, but that phone will not keep you warm at night when you are cold, neither will it take you to hospital when you are sick. That same person you have relegated to second place in your life (after your smart-gadgets) is the one who will take care of you.

Like Bill Gates said a while back, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important…” I couldn’t agree with him more.  Things are meant to be used and people to be loved, but unfortunately today we are living in a world where people are used and things are loved!

It is sad to note that over two centuries ago Albert Einstein did warn humanity about this trend when he said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity..”

As we begin a new week and a new month tomorrow, I advice us all to adjust our love-o-meter. On which side does the arrow lean? Is it towards things such as technology or towards those who should essentially be given that love that we deprive them off?

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 30th June, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words" 

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My dear Liz, thank you for this very crucial lecture. It is for veryone who manage to understand and look back to her/him self where technology is taking us, what position we give to our friends and our loved one. It is so sad that people are used and things are loved oor my. God We need God's wisdom on this seriously.

Once again Liz thank you so much.
Your young sis Consoler

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