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Reflections of a Technophile

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By asmattia
Words 1225
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Reflections of a Technophile: The Hidden Pit-falls of My Digital Life

I usually view modern technology as a great boon to myself and society, however throughout this essay I will expose and document how my use of technology is often disruptive and hinders my daily life. My first example concerns the effect that Social Media has on my life, in particular its impact upon my social relationships. To clarify, when I discuss Social Media in this essay, I'm referring to an application utilising the internet as the platform of communication and therefore in my view it is a technology. My second and third cases relate to physical technologies, in these instances computer peripherals. I will focus on the often troublesome health effects I experience from their use, which range from headaches, to eye-fatigue and Repetitive Strain Injury. My first example of a personally disruptive technology is Social Media, in this case Facebook. I find Facebook to be very impersonal, by which I mean that once signed up, I had to create what is essentially a digital version of myself, to interact with other digital versions of various friends. This, in my view, leads to a feeling of disassociation from others and presents a barrier to the development of my social relationships. I believe other negative impacts of Social Media on my life arise from the reduced physical/real socialisation it generates. I find it disrupts my relationships by providing an easier outlet to socialise, rather than communicate verbally. This has lead to relationship difficulties for me in the past. Alarmingly, I also believe that Facebook has led to a culture of observation of others, rather than interaction with others. Information is constantly fed to me and I feel less of a need to ask how somebody's holiday is going, as I can see pictures of them clearly enjoying themselves. This culture of observation had become so prominent in my life that it cost me a friend whom I knew in outside of Social Media. He had moved several hours away and at first we kept in touch via email. Eventually after Facebook had become big the emails started to dry up. Facebook had altered the way in which I communicated with him. Whereas before I would ask him how he was doing at university and with life in general, I could now just observe his statuses and uploaded photos. I felt it was no longer necessary to ask how he was doing, the evidence was there in front of me. The technology had endowed me with a sense of convenience in observation and it felt almost invasive to probe further into his activities. When the information is provided to me on screen, asking how he is, a prerequisite of socialisation, disappears. Why ask, when I already know? I say to myself. Consequently this led to the breakdown of the friendship and it was an upsetting episode in my life which I regret. It is my opinion that Social Media contributes only to disturbing my every day life. My second foray into technologies I find negatively affect my daily life concerns monitors. Seemingly innocuous in contrast to my first example, this technology causes me negative physical health effects. I can't really use a computer without one, but use of a monitor can interfere with my daily routine by causing me headaches and dry-eyes. The bright light of the screen and a lack of need to change focus results in eye muscle fatigue, which creates headaches that don't cease until a few hours after I have stopped using the monitor. Reducing brightness has no real benefit, as it just makes reading text on the screen more difficult, exacerbating eye-strain. Good ambient light, as recommended by the manufacturers, has no personal benefits if I need to read large documents. I can either risk ocular strain, or print large documents but as printers and their consumables are not cheap, the economy of this is questionable to me. I find this to be a particular hindrance when doing university work. I either have to take regular breaks, which can disrupt my work flow, or stop work all together for several hours whilst my eyes rest. It is very difficult, if not impossible for me to avoid using a monitor, as so much information I need for my university career is, by my course's nature, accessible only through computers. My family has a history of Macular degeneration and I'm very concerned about the long-term health effects frequent monitor use can have. My use of this technology massively interrupts my day-to-day living. Finally, my third piece of evidence, comes in the guise of Human Interface Devices, specifically in this case a keyboard and mouse. For myself the use of these HIDs for even just a few hours results in a flare up of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). This stems from a previously sustained injury to my right wrist and forearm, so use of both mouse and keyboard prove to be an issue. I'm aware of ergonomic keyboard designs and mouse mat wrist rests. However, my RSI is not caused by the position of my hands and wrists relative to the HIDs, more just the action of typing and manipulating a mouse, so for me these solutions do little to ameliorate the problem. Secondly, sitting at a computer to use the devices results in strain to my upper body if I'm working for a few hours. This also causes me discomfort after I have stopped using a computer, with muscular aches disturbing my sleep. Whilst taking breaks is also advised to avoid this problem, as I mentioned previously I feel regular breaks to be disruptive to my creative work flow. Because of the problems created for me by my use of a keyboard and mouse I decided to investigate the using speech recognition software (Dictation Pro) as a solution. Even with RSI I found it to be much more inefficient than typing and it leads to lots of editing. The easiest way to rectify the mistakes was to use keyboard and mouse, which obviously leads me back to the original problem. I believe them to be the most efficient way of interacting with a computer to do large amounts of work, but they do impede my daily life. I feel that these examples have highlighted why I find my use of technology to often be disadvantageous and can create issues that I would not otherwise encounter. Social Media causes me no physical harm but has and does generate discord in my social relationships. It allows me to dispose of the normal practice of socialisation, in favour of a more casual, lazy means of socialising. There are no longer any blank spaces acting as social cues where I could ask someone a question, a point which I find is detrimental to my relationships and therefore hindering my daily life. The last two examples have shown the negative health connotations I experience whilst using a monitor and mouse and keyboard. Issues such as RSI, headaches and eye-strain, are more difficult to overcome than the problems presented to me by Social Media, but this essay has allowed me to reflect on how much of a barrier the technologies I use are and how dissonant they can be.

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