As I left work yesterday I started off on my normal commute – a two minute walk to St. Stephen’s Green to catch a Luas to Dundrum. The tram line was out of service, with no trams leaving the city for the rest of the night. I headed to the nearest bus stop, apparently with the rest of the people in Dublin, to find that all the buses were full and the drivers were not taking new passengers. The roads had turned into car parks, and there wasn’t a taxi light to be seen. I decided to walk home on the Luas tracks as it was the most direct way, and because the busy-body in me wanted to find out what was wrong.
In the dark, walking at the edge of the tracks was challenging, and a tiny bit dangerous. I turned on my torch on my iPhone, and continued on my journey. Five minutes later, my phone died. As I was walking in the freezing cold, I was thinking of two things:
- I definitely deserve a takeaway after this trek. Goodbye, healthy January.
- We rely so much on technology – too much.
What would have happened if I have parked my car in Stillorgan to drive to Wicklow? How would I get home? I felt sorry for all the people that were living this reality, and thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t in that position.
Now, don’t get me wrong I use as much technology as the next person, but upon reflection, I feel it has nearly taken over my life. I can’t remember the last time I picked up an actual book. I use an app on my phone to monitor how I sleep. I have friends who I message constantly, yet I haven’t spoken a word to them in over a year. I keep more up to date with Rihanna’s life than I do my family’s lives. I can go on, but all of this upsets me.
In the world we live today, we have a constant stream of information available at our fingertips, and this is brilliant. I could search for the reason why the Luas broke down (the overhead wires snapped at Milltown) or what the weather is like in France (it’s clear, but only 3 degrees). This is amazing, and with the technology we have the world really is changing for the better. My problem is the obsession we have with technology. This morning, I searched the internet to see if it was snowing, rather than opening the curtains. This constant stream of information has made us lazy.
Facebook is one of the most used websites in the world. The social network has 1.12 billion active users, and that figure increases every day. To put that into perspective, that is 203 times the population of Ireland. Last week, I deleted Facebook from my phone. The first thing I did when I woke up was check Facebook. The last thing I did before I went asleep was check Facebook. I checked Facebook about twenty times during the day. It wasn’t healthy, and the sad thing is not much had happened on Facebook in that period of time. I found myself constantly comparing myself to other people – what I said, how I looked and what I did.
I have often found myself in situations where I had nothing to talk about with a friend, because I knew everything that was going on in their life from their online profile. We share the most mundane things – what we had for breakfast, what we are watching on TV and our diaries. These are things we would never have even mentioned before Facebook, yet we feel obliged to share this information online. Why do we do this?
Last week a craze swept Facebook called “7 Facts About Me”, where users posted seven facts that people may not have known about them. First of all, I didn’t understand this. Campaigns like The Ice Bucket Challenge and Random Act of Kindness were for good causes and spread happiness. With the 7 Facts Challenge, there was no real point to it, and for the most part, people said “I didn’t realise how hard this would be”. Probably because you have posted the rest of your life’s story already.
You might say that I’m preaching, and who am I to say all these things? I am guilty of everything I have mentioned, and I am not happy about it. The ironic thing is that once I got home from my trek on the Luas line, I ordered my Chinese via the Just Eat app! I want to change. Since I deleted the Facebook app from my phone, I am rarely on the social network. I only use it when I am on my laptop in work – which limits my usage considerably. I feel better about myself, and I am more alert. I am making the effort to dial a phone number, rather than search for the name.
So I ask you to do the same – give somebody a call and reconnect. Technology is amazing and it is vital to our lives today. Nothing beats the feeling, however, than meeting up with friends and creating new memories, rather than looking at old ones online.