White sheets in the winter's sun.
White sheets in the winter's sun. Sophie Moeller

Not 'appy' to stop thinking

MY FRIEND "G” and I were having a dispute. I was at his place and he asked me to help him hang up the washing.

It's raining, I said.

It's not, he said, holding up his phone and showing the weather app.

It's definitely raining, I repeated.

It's definitely not, he insisted, showing me the picture on his phone of the sun shining.

Look out the window, I said, playing my trump card. But it had stopped raining so we went outside and hung the washing up.

See! He said triumphantly.

It began to rain again.

I pointed to his dripping washing.

I'm going to complain to the weather station, he said tersely. I looked smug.

It got me to wondering what these ever-so-handy apps are taking from us. What independence have we easily ceded to technology?

There was a time, for example, when I would know how to get somewhere by remembering landmarks.

I would have a sense of the land through which I was travelling.

I would find short cuts and I might take unintended diversions that revealed new and interesting things. No more.

The GPS has removed any need to connect with the landscape. All I have to do is listen to the voice.

My computer has realised I like to write and has offered me, on more than one occasion, a handy plot generator. No need for any imagination or reflective thought. Simply type in the theme and bingo - plot generation.

But I don't want technology to do my thinking for me. I want it to be my servant, not my master and as far as I can see, the lines are getting very blurry. The apps can be helpful and then they can get a bit stalker-y.

My phone knows I am a new grandmother and so it is sending me information about babies and all sorts of baby stuff that I didn't ask for. I feel a bit uneasy about the nosiness of an app, masquerading as helpfulness.

In my view, the relationship between technology and owner is negotiated. Importantly, I am in charge.

Or so I think.

It is impossible to win an argument with technology or explain your problems to those whose work it is to support it.

I have come to realise that, as a human, I will always be in the wrong when technology doesn't work.

I understand technology is not about common sense, it's about training humans to think in a certain way.

I despair at the lack of creativity and imagination in the robotic and linear world around us. I think in spirals, not neat straight lines.

I value independent thought.

The murky swamp of the mind is where great ideas, knowledge, understanding and insights arise. I like the randomness of imagination.

I think that's where inspiration and intuitions can lead to amazing perceptions and wonderful realisations.

I do like using technology.

I find it useful and know it can be fantastic - but not when it tries to be in charge or organise my thinking.


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