Technology is good but human contact is even better

The internet is over, declared pint-sized eighties pop star Prince recently, and in a fashion he may be right. Prince was refusing to hand over his latest music compilation to iTunes, which he claimed would not pay him anything for the privilege but would instead only leave his work open to piracy. If people want the newest album by Prince - and apparently many do - they will just have to buy it from source, he determined. Hurrah for Prince.

Of course it is not just the internet but technology in general that is making fools of us all. Think about it. Are you one of those so addicted to your 'smartphone' that you would not leave the house without it? A few short years ago when mobile phones were invented they were hailed for transforming the way we communicated with each other. We could talk on the move. Along then came texting and provided us with a 'duck-out' sort of way of communicating, whereby we no longer even had to talk to each other but could just write short sentences instead.

Over time texting as a method of communication has become the norm for announcing news, arranging interviews, meetings, and other important dates for your diary which heretofore would have been made formally by phone or letter. Texting is now also commonly used as an easy option for finishing a relationship with someone and has replaced the expectation for birthday cards, Christmas cards, and even condolence cards. If someone dies belonging to a close friend or acquaintance, just send a text to say how sorry you are. No hugs or tears. Emotional involvement is reduced to the mere few seconds it takes to punch in the letters and send. After that it is done - leaving you free to get on with whatever other important things you want to do with your time.

With these new communication channels so well established in modern society, mobile phone operators obviously could not leave it at that - especially in a country like Ireland where two out of every three of us bought into having one. Everyone from children to grannies and granddads has a phone today, and the only time anyone bats an eyelid any more is when he or she meets someone who does not have one.

Capitalising on this massive market along came technology once again with the development of apps - or applications - which were initially add-on programmes for computers until mobile phones converted to mini-computers and hitched a ride too; which brings us to where we are today; a nation dictated to by a technology sector that forcefeeds us with hype about stunning new apps that can make our lives sensational. So now we have apps to help us eat better, sleep better, think better, perform better. There are fitness programmes to download and consult about exactly what type of work-out to do, navigation systems to interact with in order to get to your destination, diet regimes to follow with hourly alert reminders from your phone, there is even an app that tunes in so well to your body's circadian rhythms it will only sound its alarm clock when it decides you have had enough sleep.

Why is this happening? Because we are allowing it to. The marketeers are working overtime throwing new 'must-have' applications out into cyberspace and we are gobbling them up. It is pathetic. People are being hoodwinked and brainwashed to think they look cool staring at bleeping mobile phones when really they just look ridiculous. Honestly, there was real life before technology and it was not all bad. Computers do have a role to play but not 24/7. Human contact is not such a bad thing.

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