When I was a child, I remember a summer day seeming to last forever. I could do and see so much in one day. It was beautiful. Now as I grow older, time seems to be speeding up. This becomes more apparent after having a child. Today she is walking and talking and yet it feels like yesterday she was born. I fear if I blink too hard she’ll be graduating high school and headed off to college.
It forces me to look carefully at my time. The idea of living until I’m 90 felt like an eternity when I was 12. Now that I’m suddenly in my 30s, it doesn’t seem so far away.
So I ask myself questions that I believe we should all ask. Am I fully present in the moment? Am I creating things that make the world a better place?
To be honest, I am very rarely present in the moment. I am addicted to my phone, which is only easy to say because I know you, the reader, likely are as well. The level of addiction wasn’t as obvious until I ran some experiments. One was to place the phone on a table and just stare at it for 5 minutes without picking it up. I failed many times with many excuses like ‘this is a stupid experiment’ and ‘this doesn’t count, because I just need to check this one thing’.
At times when I’m with my child and should be taking in the moment, I find myself, almost without thought, unlocking my phone to check on something. I’ll stay focused on the screen until she pulls on me, seeming to say, ‘Stop, please!’
Cigarettes are obviously bad. There is study after study showing its direct link to cancer and other health issues. Even then, it took many years for the facts to change people’s habits. Technology in itself isn’t bad, but the apps on it and what they take from us often are. They ask for our time with very rarely anything positive in return.
As someone who builds web and mobile apps for a living, I am acutely aware of all the techniques that apps use to absorb our time. The ways in which they hook us with little dopamine hits that keep us coming back over and over and over again. Despite knowing this, I still struggle to change my habits. I’m now convinced that as a society there is no going back. The time before cell phones and social media is a time of the past. It’s only going to permeate society more.
It’s already at the point where we feel left behind if we don’t know how to use it. Recently, a family member called crying because she couldn’t figure out how to text her friends and felt she was losing them as a result. While you may be more technically savvy than this, you can probably relate to that feeling of anxiety with having to figure out some new device or app.
Since we can’t escape technology, I believe the only answer is to dive in deeper, but do so conscientiously. Essentially, we need to make technology invisible. It’s there when we need it, but it’s not constantly trying to pull us away and we don’t have to figure out how to use it.
Now is a particularly interesting time as augmented reality starts to grow in popularity. We’ll soon have AR glasses that create a more intimate relationship with technology. It could be a beautiful thing where AR truly enhances our reality by serving our needs quicker and easier than today’s cell phones…. or it could be a terrible thing that serves as a greater distraction and time sink.
I believe we can make it beautiful, and that is what drives me now. It is why our mission at Hootsy is to make interacting with technology feel as natural as talking to another human. We want to make the interface fade away.
Technology is there to serve us and while it might get more complex over time, how we interact with it should get easier. We should be able to simply say what we need, just like if we were talking to another human, and then quickly move on with our lives – never having to look down or feel something trying to pull us away from the current moment.
If you agree, please subscribe below and see our other post on how we’re planning to approach this, Designing Experiences to Keep You in the Moment.