Personal technology is a bit of a mixed blessing…
You can reach the world with tap of a screen. On any given day, I exchange email, tweets, DMs, comments, texts, skype and webinar with friends and colleagues from across the globe. But, that same potential to flatten and connect the world also has a dark side. It feeds behavioral patterning that connects you to others on a global scale, but also has the potential to become so consuming and addictive that it disconnects you from the people two feet away from you.
Without intention, it can disable a certain amount of local humanity, shutting down the gorgeous exchange of energy that evaporates the moment you slide a screen between two living, breathing, fully-present beings. The always-on, always accessible, real-time notifications create a classic intermittent reinforcement stimulus pattern that literally rewires your brain to create a pull that rivals narcotic addiction.
You want to be “there,” for the people who are supposed to really matter, but you can’t.
What starts as freedom to connect ends up annihilating free will.
At the same time, while some technologies enable movement, many more now facilitate so much sedentary living, working and ergonomic dysfunction that they inadvertently wreak havoc on your body, mindset, health and ability to perform at your potential. I’ve felt this in a profound way in my own body over the last few years, and am making major changes in workflow to reverse it.
What we’ve got here is a very slippery slope…
Technologies that, managed well, can add to your life, expand and enrich the human experience, but without deliberate effort, also present a heightened risk of destroying connection and wellbeing by pulling you out of your most important relationships and skewering physical health.
Still, “smart money” continues to invest in these technologies at a rapid pace, even seeking out and rewarding ones that make it harder to stop using them.
Most angels, VCs and investors are so focused on scaling and exit, they ignore the effect their portfolio companies may have on their everyday human users’ “bathroom” scales and increased risk of exit…from the planet.
What to do?
Invest time, energy, attention and money in experiences and solutions that exalt and reclaim what technology untamed takes. Invest in technologies that don’t just gamify ease of adoption and use in a vacuum, but rather leverage these same behavioral patterns to facilitate local connection, community, movement and wellbeing.
You wanna tweet or surf or play a game for 5 minutes? Earn it with 100 steps and a cup of tea with a friend. Make a phone call to family, friend or colleague? Not if the GPS in both your phones detects you within 200 feet of each other. Create an app that turns off call functionality and forces you to get off your ass, walk over and do it face to face. Award points, create leader-boards that leverage technology to reconnect people locally and inspire health-building behavior. These may or may not be real ideas. The point is to kindle the conversation.
Over the next 10 years, a cornucopia of research is going to hit that reveals what many of the default applications of tech are actually doing to us. Life’s not just about our ability to get more done in less time and rush from tech-addled dopamine hit to hit. It’s about our ability to live good lives. And you can’t do that without genuine relationships and a body and brain that aren’t constantly quitting on you.
I’d love to see some money get on the right side of that investment equation.
To invest not only in emerging technology, but emerging humanity.
So, what do YOU think?
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