We spend a lot of our time staring at some sort of display, so it’s not surprising if our tech proclivities bleed over into real life, right? Case in point: I was meeting up with a friend when I asked how his girlfriend was doing. Oops — I momentarily forgot that she dumped him (via text, no less), and he was still wrecked about it. His face fell, and as he stammered through the break-up story and how she wasted no time in changing her Facebook status, I was desperately thinking, “Undo!! Undo!! Where’s the ‘undo’ button??”
It’s like a bizarre version of augmented reality, but in reverse. Instead of bringing a layer of technology to the world around me, I’ve somehow started fitting reality into an internal techno framework. I’ve become one of those annoying people who use acronyms in everyday conversation. (“OMG, that was so LOL-worthy!” Ugh.) I don’t unwind, I unplug or reboot. I work on “Adriana 2.0,” complete with better eating habits and more exercise, and philosophically refer to life as just a big old beta test. (Wow, that’s so deep. [eyeroll] shoulder shrug [/eyeroll].) And when I look at a beautiful vista, the first thought that springs to mind is how amazingly PhotoShopped it looks.
I was appalled when I first noticed this tendency, but maybe it’s natural. Our mobile devices, gaming consoles, streaming boxes, not to mention the mainstay of most Western households, those trusty computers, are our constant companions, so of course they’ll influence us on some intrinsic levels. After all, humanity’s tools have always informed the way people view the world. (Where do you think phrases like “hit the nail on the head” or “you got screwed” came from?) We think and speak in terms based on the way of life we know. And what we are steeped in now, more than ever, is technology.
I was pondering that recently when I came across a gem saved in one of my files. It posited the scenario, “If Only PhotoShop Could Solve Our Real-Life Problems, Too.” I thought it was funny and kind of preposterous at the time, but I laugh now because of how amazingly well it lines up with the way I think these days. And what I think is this: We desperately need PhotoShop for the real world.
…you could change out your wall color in a snap
…clean up nasty mustard stains
…finally quit that crappy job and grow your money
…and if PhotoShop could do this here, imagine what it could do on Capitol Hill.
Maybe this way of thinking is a sign of the times. We live in an era when a tech writer lands in the headlines for doing the unthinkable — going offline for a whole year.
ABCNews picked up the story when Paul Miller, of The Verge, first embarked on his cyber sabbatical last year. What’s amazing is not that Miller took this upon himself, but that it was considered news. His Internet-free year, which ends this May, has been marked by postal mail, actual phone conversations, research trips to the library, paper newspapers and filing stories (yes — he continues to work for the site, chronicling this experience) by writing on his connection-hobbled iPad and physically handing that in. Sure, he still uses his devices, but he can’t hit up Facebook, online games or even text or IM messages. And when readers comment on his articles, he can’t see them or respond.
His offline journey has been a good read. (If you’re interested, you can hit it up here.) Although he has many obvious challenges — one being missing Starcraft — he also enjoys an increase in focus, higher levels of productivity without distractions and a calmer, more centered feeling free of the typical fear of “missing out” that many of us in the relentless info-churn of the Internet carry around with us. And I bet he never uses OMG or LOL in real life.
I make the vow now that I will stop using tech acronyms in everyday conversation. I will use more consideration before I speak, so an “undo” button won’t be necessary. And I will stop referring to life as a beta test. It’s not. This is the actual rollout.
But I’m not going to stop wishing there was a PhotoShop for real life. That one’s non-negotiable.