Is your technology killing you?

This is in essence a figurative question, I do not reasonably expect your iPhone, or laptop to be sat there jabbing at you and holding you hostage in a kind of mini-Terminator way.

That said there’s a quote from the 1984 film by the character Kyle Reese who says and I paraphrase:

‘Listen, and understand the Terminator is out there, it can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever…’

Now it seems a bit dramatic to compare your personal and work tech to a machine set out in a film to kill someone. However, if you take the following statements out of this quote and look at them individually, then you’ll start to get a what I mean when I say as a ‘modern’ population we are increasingly becoming beholden to our tech, and it’s having a profound and negative effect on our overall health.

It can’t be bargained with

It can’t be reasoned with

It doesn’t feel pity

It absolutely will not stop ever… (unless the battery dies, or it crashes)

So to give you some background about how I view modern technology in the home and workplace; as a self-employed businessman, and more importantly one, who for a job sees a lot of people with musculoskeletal pain and morbidity (health) issues caused by a tech induced sedentary lifestyle.

If at this point your thinking, hang on a second!! Didn’t he just say it was technology that was killing us, not being sedentary? Well yes you’d be right, but what we also need to think about is what is the unintended consequence of technology that by design is there to make our daily lives easier...It makes us more sedentary. And a sedentary lifestyle leads to heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal pain and poor mental health.  Don’t just take my word for it there’s a fantastic book called ‘Get up’ written by James A Levin; who as a researcher has detailed all the links between a sedentary lifestyle and poor health.

Anyway back to the topic in hand.  Think about it, when was the last time you got out of your chair to turn the channel over on the TV (by actually going to the TV itself, rather than hunting for the lost remote)?  If your under 20 and reading this, when was the last time you actually got up and went to sit in front of the TV in the other room? Rather than just getting your smartphone out and looking at Youtube / iPlayer in the place where you are already sat?  Apps to switch on your kettle, set your thermostat, order your takeaway, buy your groceries, listen to music, buy your appliances, find a date.  It’s all there in a device right in the palm of your hand.  Convenient? Undoubtedly. Does it increase the probability that you won’t get off the sofa and therefore you’ll remain sedentary? Absolutely.  Will this device ever stop (unless the battery dies, or you accidently break it)? Not a chance… So there you go your smartphone is already (partly) a mini-Terminator, it’s killing you with convenience.

At this point, I can here some of you asking well what’s wrong with time saving devices in a busy world? It gives me a chance when I get home all stressed, to sit down and relax.  Why’s it wrong to sit down?  The trouble is yes you’re busy and as a result yes you’re stressed; but is that because you have a lifestyle that revolves around physical exercise and activity, or is it because you’re actually working in a sedentary job all day being held hostage by your work tech?

I can also hear the millennials and middle aged triathlete / lycra / yoga trouser wearing brigade exhorting into their soya lattes whilst reading this article on their latest Apple product saying to themselves that actually.. ‘I use my personal tech to great effectiveness; the time it saves creates space in my day to allow me to exercise. Not only that it also tells me how many calories I burn when I’m (and insert any of the following phrases) doing a downward dog / riding my carbon fibre road bike / training for my next marathon.'.

Fab, that’s great, brilliant not only are you smug but you’re ahead of the curve. However, trust me you’re in the minority. The remaining (and I’m guessing) 90% of people are using that extra time to sit and watch cute animal videos on Facebook, or trying to get past that next level on Candy Crush without having to pay for in game power-ups; whilst eating biscuits / drinking wine / coffee in an effort to drown out the noise of the day.

What the rest of us need to do is stop being held hostage by our tech, but to do that first we need to stop being held hostage by our lifestyles…

In part 2 of this article I’ll discuss the real killer in the room, and the reason we’re all miserable. Workplace tech. Then we can get into the issue at hand, how to change any of this.

Author: James Barnett

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