Sunday, January 22, 2012

Better living through technology! Or...not!

Who doesn't remember "The Jetsons"? That's right, that old Hanna-Barbera toon set in a far-off future of flying bubble-cars, mile-high apartment buildings, and such centered on a suburban family led by George Jetson, his wife Jane, their boy Elroy and daughter Judy, and their big but lovable dog Astro. It was a humorous take on 'utopian' visions of the future, where every need can literally be satisfied by the push of a button, but the simple push of a button can be exhausting for the super-pampered! Think "Star Trek", but where Captain Kirk can't get out of bed with his Orion slave woman because whatever futuristic sex toys and equipment they're using is making him too damn lazy to fight Klingons.

Yeah, there's a dark side to the wonders of progress, and I don't just mean world-breaking stuff like nuclear bombs and genetic experimentation, the kind of shit where just because we can go there doesn't mean we should. But how do we know when we shouldn't? How high can technology go before we yell, "JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY THING!" Surprise, there's a sign we may already BE there, and without the benefit of robo-maids.

The British Psychological Society has just determined through a study that smartphones cause stress. Why? Because those who use smartphones are plugged into most everything digital online, and a 'helpful-stressful' cycle happens. The device manages the workload fine, but the user increasingly needs the connections he/she has access to until they depend on it, until they can't live without it.

The study went further to show that those who were apart from their smartphones eventually felt relief and happiness not being 'plugged in'. But I had always thought that progress would make things BETTER, not harder! (For the record, though, I don't own any of that iPod, smartphone, tablet, or whatever stuff. And I've saved myself some stress because of it!) In this case, though, we're learning when to say when...

"Jane, I'm suffering withdrawal from my iPhone!"

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