An unwanted love affair

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Allyson Beauregard

“Life was much easier when apples and blackberries were just fruit,” reads a popular internet meme. To some extent, the statement is true: while digital
technology has in many ways simplified our lives (the ability to keep in touch with friends and family effortlessly, make calls and access emails on the go, access

Allyson Beauregard

“Life was much easier when apples and blackberries were just fruit,” reads a popular internet meme. To some extent, the statement is true: while digital
technology has in many ways simplified our lives (the ability to keep in touch with friends and family effortlessly, make calls and access emails on the go, access
information at our fingertips, to name a few), it has also complicated our lives.
While one of the best parts about technology is that it has made us increasingly reachable, that same benefit is also one of technology’s downfalls. The internet, smartphones and cell phones in general, social media and all the latest gadgets ensure that many of us are able to be contacted, in some form or other, at almost any time – birthdays, evenings with friends, date night, Thanksgiving, grocery shopping, Christmas, family holidays, etc. The result is that we are never really fully present anywhere and the home-work divide is increasingly narrow.
Given our love for all the latest devices and technologies, it’s surprising that being reachable at almost any time isn’t something Canadians value, in
general.
In a recent study released by GfK, a market research company, 23% of Canadian consumers agreed firmly with the statement “To me, it is important to always be reachable wherever I am”, while 24% firmly disagreed. The rate of agreement is 19% below the global average (42%), while the disagreement rate is more than double the 11% global average. Russia and China had the highest levels of people who agreed strongly, at 56% each.
But not wanting to be available at all times doesn’t mean we aren’t, or that we do anything to stop it. Why do so many of us carry a phone most of the time, check our emails, messages and social media multiple times a day and sometimes even before we are out of bed, set our phones or other devices to notify us as soon as an email or message is received, etc?
Is it just a habit or have we become too dependent? How many of us can go for a day without using a cell phone or the internet? Why do we feel anxious travelling or driving without a means to contact someone if needed, especially when many of us did so in the past – before cell phones were so popular – without a second thought?
Whatever the reason for our unwanted love affair, the key to maximizing the benefits of technology is finding the right balance between using and appreciating it as a tool and knowing when to turn it off, tune out, and enjoy life to its
uninterrupted fullness.