An American on holiday told a Mexican fisherman “We Americans really value college education.” “Why.” “To get good jobs earn lots of money.” “What for?” “So that we can afford to go fishing”. The Mexican was baffled. He went fishing daily yet he had no college education.
Like the American in this anecdote, we use a roundabout way of doing simple things – in our use of technology. We have lost the original purpose of email which is to send information to someone who is out of reach or to send detailed and accurate information.
Today email has become a substitute to talking and someone will telephone a friend, and instead of giving them a message, will tell them to urgently check their email. It is a sign of slavery when we save (or is it hoard) email messages from a year ago.
To give the impression that we are ‘informed,’ some of us even have more than one email address. Like a man waiting at the port for a ship that he did not send out, we keep checking our email every two hours, just in case.
Far from seeing this addiction to technology for what it is, we glorify it. Tell people you are not on Facebook and Twitter and they think you have just surfaced from the Stone Age. It’s all vanity, really.
We take pictures with the latest cameras that no one has time to enjoy. Today having a mobile phone is not enough – it has to have email, Bluetooth, camera and plenty of space to store music and files.
Some people even have two or even three mobile phones. Having a TV is not enough, how many inches is it? You are made to feel like a criminal if you don’t know how to operate the latest 3G phone or DVD player.
Slavery to technology is paralyzing us through information overload. Frustrated organizations are grappling with how to make their Internet-addicted workers productive. Students are chatting on Facebook for hours instead of catching up with algebra.
We are slowly but surely losing original powers of thought and becoming slaves to electronic companies and their savvy marketers. Are you surprised that when Steve Jobbs of Apple is releasing a new iPad, it’s world news?
We don’t really need these gadgets, but we are thoroughly hooked to owning them. Instead of using modern technology as a tool, we have made it an end, the destination of our dreams and achievement.
An enterprising investor may soon make millions by opening rehabilitation centers where people can check in to recover from this techno-addiction.
After buying and using all these gizmos, we’ll learn the biggest lesson of them all; that they are supposed to make us communicate better. So when you can talk directly to a friend, do so instead of sending them email. You’ll soon realize that you do not need a college education to go fishing.
Edwin Maina is a writer