Are You Dependent on Technology?

Last Tuesday, I went out for my afternoon walk with George with a plan to really enjoy what could be the last sunny day of the year. Unfortunately, 5 minutes into it I realised I’d left my mobile phone at home and the mood was ruined.

I could not help feeling uneasy. Bad and worrying thoughts started going through my mind against my will and I could not brush them off. Why had I not checked my pockets before I left? What if we bump into that vicious Husky that attacked George last year? What if George gets scared and runs away? What if he breaks his leg or I slip and twist my ankle? How am I then going to contact my family and ask for help?

I felt exposed. I also felt really upset and disappointed with myself for feeling this way and thinking all those horrible thoughts. As a sane, reasonably intelligent person (which I’d like to think I am), I was completely aware that it was all silly. It was just another normal walk on a beautiful mid-autumn day. Nothing was different and nothing was going to change just because I’d left my phone at home. I don’t even answer my phone when I’m out with George anyway. It’s only there, in my pocket, in case I need it.

So, then, why this feeling? I tried to work it out in my head. I didn’t even have a mobile phone until about 10 years ago, and neither most of the people I know. We all coped OK without being ‘connected’ every second of our life. My mum trusted me to go out by myself and come back for dinner without worrying too much, but my husband and I got Brianna a phone for her 8th birthday. How much has the world changed in 10 years?

Technology has taken over pretty much every aspect of human life and we cannot live without it. We’ve been conditioned to use it and think we need it in order to survive. We can’t take one step out of the comfort of our homes without a phone or GPS device on us. This way, we can call whenever we want and will never get lost. Which is a sweet thought, but I’ve met too many people who can no longer read a map or find their way around without such a device in their pocket or stuck to their windscreen. And what about the spirit of adventure? The thought that we could get lost during a hike used to excite my friends and I when we were younger.

Whilst I’ve been resistant to the whole GPS craze and can still read a map, I have succumbed to the mobile phone. Because I hardly ever use it, I hadn’t even realised how much I’ve come to depend on it until I accidentally left it at home. I’m not entirely happy about it, but I’m not going to fight it either. I like the feeling of knowing that I can contact another human ‘if anything happens’.

As you can see, my mobile phone is nothing special. It's old, but I'm not planning on changing it anytime soon, and the thought of a Blackberry or iPhone does not fill me with excitement. However, it looks like I've come to depend on my little communication device more than I thought...Hmm, this requires a bit of introspection...

Having analysed my own behaviour and the behaviour of other people I know, I am amazed how, although we know we can be tracked wherever we are and our personal freedom is a concept of the past, we’re happy to embrace technology because it makes us feel safe. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who feels this way. This is a global issue. And I’ve got to ask: How do you feel about technology? Are you dependent on it? If so, to what extent?



Filed under Whilst walking the dog

29 responses to “Are You Dependent on Technology?

  1. You hit the nail on the head. I feel just the same way when I venture into the woods without my phone. Like you, my phone is old and basic and I rarely use it – but it is so comforting to have it around! I have no desire for an updated version (I admit it – I am not smart enough for a Smart Phone!)

  2. Hi Didi. I completely agree with you — I always have a unsettled feeling if I’m out in the woods by myself without a phone. It’s definitely my security blanket. And you want that safety net for Brianna, too, and I know you will teach her the proper use of technology. I think if we use technology wisely, than we shouldn’t worry about overusing it. It seems to me worse to have helpful tools available but resist them for the sake of resisting. All that to say, I’m with you! I absolutely love the background picture you have on your phone!

    • Yes, you’re right about resisting helpful technology for the sake of resisting. We live in a very technological age and we have to be able to operate within it. This is why we’re trying to make sure that Brianna is familiar with all useful gadgets and knows how to use them (without becoming addicted to them). Glad you liked my phone wallpaper, I knew you’d spot it 🙂

  3. Hello again, Didi! I know how you feel. I wouldn’t sweat the fact that you sometimes resent the way technology has made it so that people feel a little uneasy whenever they are “unplugged” for a while.
    It doesn’t make anybody a Luddite to feel this perfectly natural hostility.

  4. I feel exactly the same if I go for a walk with the dogs and forget my phone for the same reasons. I’m not joined at the hip with it by any means and could easily live without it, but it does give me a sense of security when I’m by myself either driving or with the dogs. I love having new technological toys to play with but could live without the lot of them:) Glad you got home ok!

  5. I must admit it . . . I’m a complete gadget addict. I just love technology and ways in which it can simplify life. I often think how times have changed though. Like you say, it wasn’t that long ago that average people didn’t have such devices. My cell phone goes everywhere I go, and GPS makes me feel especially secure when traveling on my own. I could read a map, but if I make a wrong turn, GPS is there to correct me instantly. You’ve got to love that. 🙂

    • I’ve never used a GPS, but I don’t overrule the possibility of using one in the future, especially if I was planning a long trip on my own. However, I’ve heard stories of the GPS going wrong and taking the driver along the wrong route…There was a short story in the press not long ago, about a lorry driver who got his lorry stuck on a very narrow lane because that was the route his GPS was telling him to take. I guess common sense must prevail over complete trust in such gadgets.

  6. I have, many times, forgotten to bring my handphone with me when heading out. Strange enough, I feel ‘lighter’ (literally and figuratively) by the fact that I’m not carrying around a handphone. I guess this means I’m not very dependent on mobile telephone devices. On the other hand, I would feel lost—almost disconnected from the world—if I did not have access to the Internet and, more specifically, email! I estimate that I check my various email inboxes at least 10x a day (and, yes, even I would consider that a little excessive) 😉

    • I work on the computer and my email inbox is open all of the time, although I only click on the new messages at certain times (otherwise I wouldn’t do any work). However, if I was completely disconnected from technology, it’s still the phone I’d miss the most 🙂

  7. Kas

    I completely agree with you — I panic if I am out with the dogs (or horseback riding) and realize that I am without my phone. It’s unsettling and I too think, “What if this? What if that?” Technology is great, but I do think we are addicted to a point!

  8. Now I really feel like a freak of nature. I don’t have a mobile phone at all. And one of the (many) reasons I don’t is because I like knowing I can take care of myself without it.

    People ask me what I would do if my car broke down. I tell them I’d do what I’ve always done–fix it myself or start walking. And of course, nowadays everyone else has a phone and people are often very pleased to help.

    I sometimes wonder if I could accomplish much more if I could answer emails on the go and do blog business from my phone. But I’m also resistant to working all the time. I want to balance real life and virtual life.

    This is such a thoughtful post and I hope you’ll continue to explore these ideas. They are so important to think about. I’d also suggest you read the book, Hamlet’s Blackberry. It’s an interesting and easy read about how humans have always struggled with new technology–even when the technology was just the written word. You might find a kindred spirit or two.

    • Thank you for your kind words and the recommendation, Pamela. I’ll definitely look for the book, it sounds like my cup of tea. Not sure if my local library would have anything like this, but Amazon should.
      You’ve got my full admiration for not owning a mobile phone and, therefore, not being dependent on technology. You’re definitely not a freak, but a free spirit. Although I like the comfort of having my mobile in my pocket, I am resistant to using my mobile for email, blogging, etc. (i.e. anything else than phonecalls and SMS) because, like you, I try to resist the temptation of spending too much time in the virtual world. Family life and living are so much more important!

  9. Hi Didi,

    As you know from a recent post I wrote, I hate technology, and keep it down in the basement. 🙂

    That said, your post hit home on so many levels. I love how honest you were in your writing, and this line in particular, “I felt exposed. I also felt really upset and disappointed with myself for feeling this way and thinking all those horrible thoughts,” really struck me.

    It’s so true. It really is a battle for someone who didn’t grow up with a phone to admit to being dependent on one (or any other device), especially when that same person is sane (yes, you are!) and knows that life goes on without technology, you can read a map, and you more than likely will not get lost and never found.

    What is it then, that drives us to cling to this world of cyberspace and cell phones? I wish I had an answer.

    When I was little, I was definitely more free than my children are now. I went out with my friends, and my “trick” to coming home late for dinner was that I would pull the button out of the side of my watch, to stop it, and tell my mother I’d forgotten to wind it! (Naughty, naughty.)

    But what was I doing? Riding my bike. Jumping from the swings at a park with my sister. Roaming through the Town Forest. And now I wonder, will I, as a parent, let my child do that some day? I haven’t had to answer the question as my kids are just 3 and 4 years old.

    Reading your post, I remember a few times I’ve left the house without my phone, but with my children. And when I first notice it’s missing, I feel like a failure! As if I’ve somehow failed to protect them, even though they are right with me. Then… I feel free. And a little rebellious. And it’s a good feeling. I am constantly forgetting things when I leave the house, so it’s a wonder I have a cell phone at all. Nobody can reach me on it, as even when it’s with me I forget to turn up the ringer!

    Or do I? 🙂

    Maybe my subconscious is telling me just what you wrote. That I do know how to read a map, and I did survive for the better part of my life without a cell phone, and that I like myself much better when I’m not dependent on technology.

    Great questions, lots to ponder. Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Hi, Melissa, and thank you for taking the time to leave such a lovely (and lengthy) comment, which is more like a post itself 🙂 I appreciate it!
      I love the story of how, as a child, you cheated time by stopping your watch…What a brilliant set up for a book 😉 I wasn’t anywhere near as creative as you, I just begged for 5 more minutes when my mum called me in for tea.
      Reading your comment has made me realise that, like you, I like the feeling of having the phone in my pocket because I feel protective of my kids. I don’t usually care if I leave it at home when I go out by myself.
      As for turning the riger off, my husband does that all the time 🙂

      • Hi Didi,

        I felt badly about leaving such a long comment! But I can’t take all the blame, as it was your post that was so thought-provoking. 🙂 And I never thought of it as “cheating time,” but you’re right! That’s just what it was. (I’ve always loved science fiction, so your comment was just what I needed to hear.)

      • Oh, no, you could never leave a comment that’s too long, so don’t feel bad about it! I love it, it feels like we’re having a proper, face-to-face chat 🙂

  10. Hi Didi and George
    We are still in the wilds of Tasmania, a lot of the places we are camping have no mobile coverage at all, now this really is not too much of a problem as although i have a mobile phone I often forget to take it along with me, I tend to use it as one does a fixed line phone and leave it in the motorhome!
    When i got my first mobile phone I actually forgot to turn it on for about 2 monthes!
    Don’t have a GPS at all, I don’t like having to look at things when I should be looking at the road.
    and anyway, half the fun of being out on the road is getting lost and discovering places you had no intention of going to!
    George will be pleased to know that we have now met 2 other Whippets travelling in motor homes!

    • We kind of envy you for the freedom to travel the beautiful, wild Tasmania, free as the birds in the sky! It must be so liberating…I completely understand why you don’t allow technology to bother you. We, too, switch our phones off when we go camping in the summer, so that we can enjoy nature without any distractions.
      George is pleased for the boys to have made 2 new whippet friends…He wishes he was that lucky! 🙂

  11. A very interesting post 🙂
    I have the same feeling as you. When mobile phone wasn’t invented yet,we could go anywhere without feeling we have left something…but now, leaving a phone behind is worrying. I think it is because I no longer my friend’s phone number. Back in those days,I remember a lot of phone number but now…I only remember my own number…sad but true.

  12. Great post Didi. I can relate. I own my own business and I have to have one. I know have an iphone and I love it. Sheila on the other hand is so anti-technology, that she just wants a simple phone with just a dialer. That is almost impossible these days. The trick is to find a phone that you can use to your advantage.

    • That’s a bit like us, then… I love my simple phone, just like Sheila. If it dials and texts, then it’s enough for me. My husband, however, is the one with the fancier phone, not necessarily because he’s a technology freak, but because of business reasons. And I have to admit, his phone comes in rather handy when we’re away from our desks but have to reply to important business emails.

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