I was reading Ad Age this week and I came across this column by Judy Shapiro. In it she makes the very cogent argument that while technology helps in many ways it doesn’t really make our lives any easier:
The truth is simply this: Technology makes tasks easier, but it does not make our lives easier. Whether we are talking about replacing rocks with washing machines or rotary telephones with mobile video-chat devices, technology, in fact, makes our lives more complicated.
She goes on to talk about washing machines, the iPhone, and the fact that technology curing our ills is a myth that needs to die. I couldn’t agree more.
Let’s make a short list:
- The Blue Screen of Death
- The Dead Battery and No Outlet
- The Printer Is Jammed/Out Of Ink/Inaccessible to the network
- Email/SMS/Everydamnplace Spam
I could go on. The biggest facts that shatter the myth for me are the overwhelming amount of information that’s hurled at each of us every day and the pace at which EVERYTHING happens these days. I’ve received phone calls from people who wonder why I haven’t responded to an email they sent 15 minutes before. I’m sure most of you have had to explain something you wrote in an email that didn’t come out the way you meant – nuance is hard in oral language and even harder in written – those are issues caused by technology, not helped by it. How much time have you spent trying to fix the very machines that are supposed to be helping you? Factor in the hours of time waiting for the IT person to get there when you figure it out!
When I began in business, I hand-wrote letters which my assistant typed. If I wanted to change something, she typed it again. In full. Memory typewriters were a step up and word processors an even bigger advance. Except at some point it took her longer to figure out how to format something in Word than it would have taken her to retype the whole thing from scratch. That’s when tech jumped the shark for me.
I make my living by understanding both technology and how to use it to make our lives and businesses better. I’m not a luddite. But I say nice job, Judy. What do you all think?