Did you see the recent ad suggesting that your family might be drowning in tech? That you should buy less to be happier? Yeah, I didn't see that ad either.
Tonight's post explores how technology – and toward the end of the post, how Jade – affects our most basic social unit in the fabric of humanity: the family. Keep reading...
It is common to see parents soothing their young children by passing them a glowing rectangle. That is not an accusation, but an observation. We purchased the rectangle for us because we thought that it would make us happy; clearly, if it was not serving this purpose, we would not pass it on to our distraught children.
This scenario underscores the root of a lot of our purchases: we buy technology because we are led to believe that it will, in some way, increase our happiness. Our individual happiness. Increasingly, this technology we buy is connected. We are told that this will also contribute to our happiness. For example, instead of following a schedule, attending, and immersing ourselves in a group performance, we can get individualized and personalized media straight to our rectangle on-demand.
Whether or not you consciously acknowledge it, you have some choice over what you give to your senses every minute of the day. And this sensory information – sights, sounds, smells, thoughts – shapes your brain as you interpret it in real-time. This is not a philosophical mind vs. brain debate, so let's be clear: your emotions and thoughts would be very different if you disconnected yourself from all connected technology.
At what point did technology provide a diminishing return to our happiness? We have been so collectively enamored with the rectangles that we probably do not stop to consider this question. Nobody lists all of the tech they own and asks themselves if they would be happier without an item on the list.
This individualization and constant immersion in tech polarizes us and divides us. Let me explain.
Reality in a Medium
As we turn to our glowing rectangles to learn about events across the world, we find ourselves going to the sources we trust. Understanding why we trust specific ones is of little consequence or value, as we tend to dismiss rational arguments against our choice of provider. We prefer emotional arguments and stories, especially when they resonate with us. (As I wrote about last week, there is no such thing as a rational argument.)
I have seen families in disagreement because their individual technology is manipulating them differently, reinforcing that each individual's viewpoint is correct. Apparently, and unknowingly, the individual experience provided by the rectangle is overtaking soft skills like tolerance and empathy. (Some companies have tried to turn shared experiences, such as watching TV, into individual experiences.)
One intent behind individualized experiences is to provide a realistic immersion that you will not want to leave: one that caters to our desires, hides us from our discomforts, and responds to our whims. Basically, an experience that gives your brain the sensory information you prize the most, reinforcing the connections between those neurons and further cementing the belief that your viewpoint on a specific topic is the most correct one.
Our certainty can be manipulated any time that our trusted information sources decide to do so. We are neuroplastic and as fragile as a bubble carried in the wind. Pop.
If the endgame of current connected technology is to polarize us and lower our empathy, is it in our best interest to continue pursuit of this course?
Rarely does technology serve your best interest; rather, it serves the single-bottom-line company that manufactured it. Virtual reality is the next step in this game of immersion, and there is a lot of money being thrown at it.
As virtual reality continues to develop, I can only caution you and your children to approach it with disbelief. It is an extension of our trajectory today: a personalized, digital experience that we will like more than the actual reality in front of us.
We must act with caution not to prize a virtual, digital experience more than reality. The appeal of such a reality is simple: people value control over their environment, no matter how illusory, over the discomfort of reality. We find safety in being preoccupied with things that we believe are under our control.
Virtual reality will likely further polarize us and distract us from the immediate things that matter.
Jade in the World
Shift Sight has documented some observations and expectations:
Mixing these observations against the context of this article, the conclusions here are quite unique:
Look forward to our updates. Jade is being designed for you and your children. Your family.
See you next week!
P.S. -- Because we all love eye candy, here are some render byproducts from setting up animation rigging:
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.