Does Technology Save You Time?

Does technology save you time?  What do you think?  Do you really think so?

Part of a sociology course involved analyzing the  impact inventions had on people’s lives.  A simple example was given:  vacuum cleaners.

Prior to the vacuum cleaner, people had rugs and they took those rugs out and beat the dust out of them,   low tech – time consuming and they mopped the hardwood and linoleum floors under and around those rugs.  The vacuum cleaner changed all that.

Then people wanted carpets in their homes because the vacuum cleaner would help with the maintenance.  But then instead of laying down a floor like hardwood or linoleum which lasted decades, there was underlay, carpet, the vacuum cleaner and, of course, then cleaners for the carpet. !  And, of course, since time is money, carpets wore out much faster than hardwood and linoleum so it cost more time to earn the money to replace the carpets.  Then, there was  getting rid of parasites which loved the wonderful hiding places carpets provided, the anti allergy medications or air purifiers to counter some of the chemicals used in the carpet making process, buying bags for the vacuum, etc. –  all of this to replace the mop! In the end, carpets actually cost people more time and money for the convenience of cleaning rugs!

So it is with technology – we had a problem – it was so difficult to find data, crunch stats and find information.  So the computer came along to share information and crunch numbers.  Great!   It saved hours and hours and hours of boring, manual labor. It also costs jobs.

But then we wanted the computer to do more – we wanted it to help us with office jobs, connect to each other and entertain us. Computers did all that too.

Now, though, technology is costing us both in time and money, especially time and sanity.  We have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space —- texting —- Google, Firefox, Chrome —– anyone, anytime access to each other —– Flickr, Photobucket, Google images —-  email —– and a proliferation of software on the internet to do every single thing there is to do —–  and it all costs you even more time –

  • searching thousands of sites to find the tiniest bit of information – because everything now is so  narrowed,  it takes searching multitude of sites for a collection of useful information
  • texting – it’s become an addiction. People are willing to die or kill others to view and send a message.  Like the cell phones, everyone is accessible day or night – all day — all night — and at the price of ignoring the people they are with too. How can anyone think about what they need to get done when so much time is taken with trivia?
  • social networking chews up a lot of time – connecting with friends and family – none of you are on the sites constantly so there’s frequent treks to see what has been posted instead of the occasional call or email
  • search engines are many and Google may be great, the other ones may be better for you. For instance, Firefox has a lot of plug-ins which can make your particular search easier and more accurate.  Of course, a person needs to research and find out what those plug-ins are and what they do for you.  As search engines come on board, there’s another learning curve – what do they do and how do they do it?  Takes up loads of time
  • anyone can reach us anywhere, any time which means we cannot have down time. It’s like putting someone in “locked chamber” – there’s no escape.  And people feel they can’t shut off their cells “in case there’s an emergency” – it’s interesting what people define as an “emergency”.  That kind of pressure weighs on the mind – people can’t relax as they are in a constant state of expectation.
  • there’s an expectation that people post images for one another – great to share but how many? If you have 150 people in your group of  friends and family, how much time it would take if you view pictures from all of them?

Ask yourself:

  • Is it necessary?
  • What if I got rid of my cell phone or PDA other than for work or emergencies? What would happen?

  • What if I went to the library to research instead of online?  What kind of experience would that be?
  • What if I paid attention to the people I was with instead of paying attention to each call or text message – would my relationships improve?
  • What if I shut off my cell phone or PDA, would I have some quiet down time for myself?
  • What if I didn’t use my computer, cell phone or PDA for an entire day, what else could I experience?
  • Would anything serious happen to anyone if I didn’t text them back or update my Twitter or called them three times on any particular day?
  • How much would I save by managing technology rather than technology managing me?

Does technology save time?  Like any other tool – yes – if is properly managed and controlled by the person using them, understanding that technology is only a tool, not the  lifeblood of your life!

Lorraine Arams
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