Embrace tech realism

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Embrace tech realism

Thursday, 10 September 2020 | Sanjay Sehgal

It is incumbent upon us to create a harmonious existence to align technology and its use with human values

We indulge in techlashing every day even as we go on increasing our dependence on and interactivity with technology — at times knowingly, and at other times unknowingly. The rush to shrink is increasing and this translates into added whiplashing of all things technology has introduced us to. However, ironically, even to vent out our frustrations with technology, we tend to fall back on it. You could be reading this article on your device which is also a manifestation of technology. The data you are using to run the device, too, is a product of technology. By wiring our brains to treat technology as a pariah and simultaneously upping its use in our lives, we have thrown ourselves into a situation where we are living with the enemy. There is no way this situation can be healthy for our mental and physical well-being. The early greying of hair, the constant body fatigue, the migraines, the sinuses, and the joint pains are not always part of the body’s degenerative processes. The early onset of many of these symptoms and ailments is a result of us forcing ourselves to live with that which we despise or think we dislike.

Many of us were working towards decoupling ourselves from technology when the pandemic struck. But what happened is that the Coronavirus brought us even closer to it than before. Right from the online ordering of essentials to managing our businesses and work from home, to declaring our presence through Zoom calls, we went back to technology in a major way. Our social interactions, too, became dependent on technology with both parties and party poopers moving online. Visits to markets and movie halls stopped, as did the visits to yoga centres and gymnasiums. From shopping, to exercise, to watching movies, to talking to friends, technology became a medium for everything. Yet we have not been able to make peace with the technological world and therein lies the problem. 

Until we accord technology its due importance, we will remain at perpetual war with that which is indispensable. This is not about accepting the prowess of technology, it is about realising our innate untapped potential to not become a slave, instead master moderation in our use. I can assure you that it is not as far-fetched an idea as it seems to be. Many people these days are becoming aware of the intrusive nature of the technology that surrounds us and take time out for exercise, meditation or reading, by keeping devices at bay. Some couples make their dining area a no-entry zone for computers and smartphones, particularly if they have teenagers or young adults in the family. It is possible to enjoy technology-free evenings with peaceful walks or long drives with the spouse or family. It will all begin by accepting technology as a part of our life, just like a life partner or a friend we consider indispensable.

Use technology for the right reason. I see people doing it these days. Festivals and family gatherings are also happening online, across nations. That curbs the need to fly thousands of miles, yet brings families and hearts together, without polluting the environment. Isn’t it the same technology that we are lashing out against, which is helping us minimise expenses, save the environment and allowing us to stay at peace with our environment? Being a heartfulness practitioner and trainer, I can vouch for that because technology has helped us conduct online meditation sessions. It has become the source that is helping us connect with so many people even during the lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic. Technology has made us believe in the concept of a one-world family. 

As individuals, we are not the centre of the universe. Our holistic well-being should however be at the centre of all things we do, and this includes living with technology. Therefore, it is about time we replace techlash with tech realism. This is the reality and it is here to stay. But it is not here to replace us. It is incumbent upon us to create a harmonious existence to align technology and its use with human values. This will help us enjoy better control over our present and future. 

Appreciate the positives and work on the negatives while not allowing dependence to take over at any time. Allow yourself an occasional break from the technological world just as you allow yourself a break from people by retiring to your room or taking a solo vacation. Technology is our ally but the quick advancements have overwhelmed us and made us fear change. Despite the certainty of change in human life, we have barely managed to overcome the fear of it. It became a cliche to say technology is a double-edged sword. But we never say the next, most obvious line: The handle is in your hand. If you do not turn it on, there is nothing to fear. So embrace technology without fear and be its master. Not the other way around.

(The writer is an Information Technology specialist and Chairman and CEO, MSys Group)

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