commentary Lifestyle Miscellaneous RSI

Addicted to Technology

needle1.jpgWe are a species that spends most of our lives battling addictions of one sort or another – ranging from what we consume to television to news, the list is endless. Our addiction to technology is no different. The cool technological gadgets that adorn our lives are just so addictive!

There are so many ways today to fritter away huge amounts of our time in our new virtual worlds. Have you ever played a video game and noticed how 3 hours of your life just disappeared?

Technology has brought us immense benefits as a society, but it has also made us slaves to a great extent, and we spend ever increasing amounts of time interacting with devices whether they be computers, mobile phones, PDAs, games consoles, MP3 players, GPS or TV remotes.

A substantial portion of employment now involves working on computers, whether it be the inputting/analysing of data, or the creation of the latest software that controls our lives. The trouble is that, the more high technology we introduce to our lives, the more time we spend interacting with it, often to the disadvantage of our health. It’s not too hard to imagine that, if current trends continue, there will be a technological gadget to interact with from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep (or more scarily from the moment we are born until the moment we die!).

The Web has expanded the information available at our fingertips by a staggering amount. It has also changed the way we spend large amounts of our leisure time (news surfing, watching videos, e-shopping, chatting, talking, sharing photography, socialising, network gaming, browsing) but this has come about at the expense of our health since we are now sitting in a sedentary posture for hours on end making small repetitive movements with our arms, hands and eyes, often in a slouched, bad posture. Before the Internet was available, we obtained our information from books, magazines, newspapers, talks etc which at least involved a walk to the newsagent, library, pub, town hall etc. Socialising was solely done by interacting with people you physically met, and gaming involved running around the public park kicking a football. Nowadays the exercise involved is often no more than climbing out of bed and turning the computer on, and we wonder why obesity rates are spiralling out of control! Not only do we have all this technology available, but we also feel compelled to use it for longer (often hours at a time) in a way that we never did with other more conventional pastimes.

The one thing that all of this technology has in common is that it has forced us to replace lots of big movements with lots of small, repetitive movements, and spend many hours interacting with virtual worlds on a small screen instead of interacting with the real world. It has disassociated us from reality, and made us feel like this virtual world is hugely important, so much so that we can’t imagine life without it. It has led us to be at a heightened risk of developing many types of problems including the very real threat of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs). It has also just as worryingly made serious addicts out of all of us.

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