I have to say, it is incredible all of the things that have been created to make life and the things we do quicker, more efficient, and accessible. We have smart phones that give us access to literally everything at the tap of a screen, GPS to guide us to where we need to go, watches that track our fitness and remind us to get up and move, and the most obvious, cars to take us vast distances in a much shorter amount of time. I mean people a hundred and fifty years ago only had an average of one horsepower and now my 2015 Ford Fusion is rocking about 175 horsepower. That’s like 174 more horses than my stupid great great grandfather had. With all off this accessibility are we trading ability for efficiency?
Before you scoff and leave this article let me first say that this is not a post about ditching technology and living a totally Amish lifestyle. I’m not some Luddite. (I’m using the modern version of the word Luddite by the way and not the historical use referring to the English people who destroyed weaving machines because they believed they were threatening their jobs as weavers.) This post is merely going to take a look at some of the things we use technology for that we really don’t need to and how using that tech less can improve our lives both mentally and physically.
The big thing that I’ve been focusing on is that of my use of my car. If I have somewhere to go, I look at how far it is and what I need to bring along. If it is in walking distance and I can manage the trek in a reasonable time then I will strap on my runners and walk that distance. This does double the good. I am not only reducing my carbon footprint, but I am getting some valuable exercise in. Anywhere you can opt to use your body to complete a task over using a tool or technology/machine the better. Maybe this is a triple or quadruple good blast. Carbon reduction, exercise, money saver, and getting that vitamin D from that beautiful (and sometimes angrily hot) sun.
Another place I see technology muddying up our days and limited our brain usage is when we rely on our GPS to get us to even the shortest distances. Our cities are set up to navigate without GPS. The streets and zip codes are there for a reason. Years before GPS, people were navigating towns and cities by simply having the knowledge of how their system works. How does this benefit you? Well, for one big one, it keeps your eyes on the road and your attention on the task at hand, driving safely. We may not be texting and driving, but we are still distracted by looking at our phones for where to turn next. By taking GPS out of the trip we are forced to look around and stay active in the moment. We need to pay attention to the road signs and the traffic around us a lot more than if we allow a GPS to control our journey. Now, I’m not saying ditch the GPS altogether, but just reduce the use a bit. Learn your city and you will find that you start to see things you never noticed before, like that brake lights of the car in front of you.
This next one is a bit of a rough one because I know pretty much all of us need it on a daily basis and that my friends is spelling and grammar check. I know that in just the typing of this post alone I have had to click the little squiggly lines and let the computer take over and correct my dumb brain to something correct and much smarting sounding. Thanks to my friends over at Grammarly...haha I wish! Hey Grammarly, if you read this, hit me up with a sponsorship. I need it! Both financially and editorially. Back to the point. So often we just let the computer change the grammar or spelling without really paying attention to what it is correcting. We just assume they are right and often they are. Sometimes though, the grammar choices are a bit off. Not with Grammarly though....am I sponsored yet? I try my best to see where I spelled a word wrong and learn from my mistakes. That way I can rely on the squiggles less and use my brain more. Because the truth is that when I write on paper...with a pen...those squiggles don’t follow me and I can’t right click for the correct version. Sure, handwriting is dead and you’re a dinosaur if you even know what paper feels like, but there is a beauty and benefit to writing things by hand. The beauty is in the flow of the pen across the page and your unique handwriting, no matter how hideous and illegible it may be. The benefit is that studies have shown (Google it) that writing something by hand connects it with your brain more than typing. You are more deliberate with your words and they imprint not only on paper, but in your brain more. This is why teachers have you take notes and copy sections from books. (Of course not everyone learns the same way to take that with a grain of salt)
My point of all of this is, that if you are able to do something without the help of a machine or technology then do it. Not everyone can walk a quarter mile to a coffee shop or memorize the street patterns of a city or even hold a pen and technology is what allows them to function. That is perfectly okay and frankly rather great that we have these things that allow those who have a handicap in their path to function like those who are able bodied. Take a look around your life and find where you can reduce your use of technology and machines. You might find a deeper connection with the world around you and your own body and mind.
(This blog was written entirely with the use of technology and the brain of a computer that is connected to billions of other computers via the Internet, allowing me to simply spell words correctly.)