“Siri, what is the name of the song that is playing?” “Alexa, remind me to pick up the dry cleaning at 5:00 pm today.” “Hey Google, what was the score of the Cubs game today?” “Cortana, play the song Amazing Grace.” Boom! Done!
Technology has grown rapidly and has reached a point where they are a part of our everyday lives. We can all now have our own virtual assistant that is there to help us with our many needs. If we need to schedule a meeting, listen to a particular song, order groceries, look up facts on the internet, or even find out what the name of the song is that we hear on TV, she (or he) is there for us. Short of doing the laundry, cleaning the house or doing the yardwork, these assistants can do most everything else.
The problem is we are beginning to humanize them. People even yell at them when they are not getting us exactly what they are asking; and these assistants don’t get angry back. In fact, they stay calm throughout. Then, the real problem comes when we begin to expect the same from our friends. We forget our real, living, breathing friends actually have opinions and feelings. These virtual assistants cause us to become spoiled, entitled, and desensitized.
Sadly, during a time when we have the technology to communicate more efficiently, we actually communicate worse with each other. I went to a restaurant recently and watched a table of eight young adults hardly communicate a word to each other. They all had their cell phone in their hands, heads were down, and were checking their emails, “checking-in” on Facebook, surfing the web, or simply texting. It appeared there was some interaction between each other at the table. I only assume this because one would type something, look up, and smile at a person across the table from them. The other person would then look down, type something, and do the same. In the span of a half hour I witnessed this sad display of communication by other members of our species. Okay, to be honest, it wasn’t completely quiet. They did talk a bit, but not in a way that would lead you to believe there was any resemblance of a deep conversation.
In my opinion, I really don’t think technology is the issue. The problem is our immaturity in how to properly navigate the technology to further our love and commitment to fellow human beings. It doesn’t matter how smart the phone becomes if we aren’t mature enough to use it properly. Technology has grown fast…too fast.
I challenge you this week to get together with friends for at least a few hours, and toss the technology into a basket and leave it. Don’t sit and watch a movie either, nor play a game or anything else that inhibits conversation. Instead, sit, talk, play cards, or play a board game – communicate one on one. It will be easier for some, and excruciating for others, but either way, you will have a great time! If not, it might be a sign you need to join a support group.