Technology is all around us, these days. It’s just about completely impossible to ignore or get away from, unless you want to move into a cabin in the wilderness, in some remote forest in the mountains.
Of course, the sorts of technologies we have around us these days are often amazing tools, with all sorts of potential for making our lives better, and allowing us to maximise our efforts in different domains. But they can just as easily be sources of endless procrastination, downward spiralling, distraction, and worse.
Maintaining the right balance, and keeping things in proper order, matters a lot. Here are a few tips for a healthier relationship with technology.
- Go the extra mile to guard against health and privacy risks
In recent years, there have been a lot of startling revelations about just how much our privacy and security are being violated, more or less constantly, via the technologies that we use every day.
The whistleblower Edward Snowden, for example, revealed global mass surveillance programs the likes of which would make George Orwell’s head spin.
In addition to security issues, there are also potential health risks to confront and pay attention to. Some people, for example, have had a lot of dark things to say about the possible health implications of 5G technology.
If you’re going to spend a lot of money on something like an iPhone, the least you can do is to go the extra mile to guard against some of the issues that might come along with that device. For example, get safe iPhone cases that help to shield you against certain emissions.
It might also be worth scrapping that Alexa or Google Home device, and switching to a more secure email provider.
- Stop being a slave to your gadgets, and understand when you are being manipulated
In his book, “Irresistible,” the writer Adam Alter does a great job of pointing out just how dark and insidious many of our most popular tools and technologies are, in terms of emotionally and psychologically manipulating us, and breaking down our willpower and resistance.
Among other things, he points out that major social media giants have actively sought out experts from the gambling industry, to make sure that they are able to use as many psychological tricks as possible to get people legitimately “hooked” to their services.
You’ve probably seen more than a few people who just can’t put down their phones and stop scrolling through their social media feeds, even at a family dinner. Realise when you, yourself, are being a slave to your gadgets, and work to actively remove yourself from situations where you’re being totally manipulated.
- Use your technologies as specific tools, instead of as all-pervasive features of your life
If you have a high-tech gadget for absolutely every little dimension of your life, you can be reasonably sure that you’re not actually doing a very good job of using those technologies as tools. Rather, you’re probably a victim of the marketing machine.
Follow Cal Newport’s advice on “Digital Minimalism.” Use high-tech tools that really have a disproportionately positive impact on your life, without a corresponding negative impact. Get rid of the rest.
Your electric toothbrush counts. Your “smart scale” that reports your weight data to a subscription-based service, somewhere in the cloud, doesn’t.