Technology Editorial Final Draft
At 10:30 on a Sunday evening, one of the most frustrating and crushing sights in the modern age filled my drowsy gaze. A small black and white tyrannosaurus rex with a large, cumbersome nose and tiny, thin arms appeared on the bright screen, indicating that Google Chrome could not open my chemistry help page due to issues with the internet connection. In the utter despair that often accompanies complete hopelessness, I double tapped the space bar on the keyboard and watched the small dinosaur run and jump over a cactus with each click of my key. This sequence of events is not an uncommon occurrence for me nor for many students attempting to do late night research, but, upon further consideration, this small digital figure proposed an interesting complex that represents the technology debate as a whole. While it could be that this dinosaur and its accompanying game was simply an attempt from the Google company to be clever and unique, it also serves as a demonstration of human dependence on technology for a distraction. Whether it’s a distraction from frustration, boredom, or frustration due to boredom, this game shows how technology has become integrated to fill even the shortest amounts of time, denying people their full potential for a fulfilling existence and not allowing for free thought and creativity that makes the time worth it.
When I was younger, it was customary that when my family and I arrived at a restaurant the hostess would ask how many children there were and distribute the corresponding amount of kid’s coloring sheets and menus to our table. Coloring in the olives, navigating the mazes, and circling the correct combinations of letters in the word search on these sheets proved a good way to occupy me until the meal came while the adults held sophisticated conversations about the housing market and the best times of year for fishing. The reason for this difference in activities can be found by analyzing the way that children think versus the way adults do. To a child, life is in the events that are the biggest, most exciting, or simply necessary like receiving the food at a restaurant; the in between stages are not moments of their lives, but obstacles to get around to the parts of life that matter to them. The adults, however, with their more experienced view of the world, were able to realize all the time spent doing anything was precious because every moment combined to make their lives. Because of the shorter attention spans of children that results from the mindset that only certain periods of time matter, these activities were perfectly acceptable, and now, with evolving electronics and their software, kids have exchanged the placemats and crayons for electronic devices such as iPods, smart phones, or tablets. However, the shift in the atmosphere of eateries is not due to the entertainment medium of the children changing, but to the fact that the adults are often engaging in the same electronic games rather than in personal conversation. This shows that they have reverted to the less mature view of life that is generally held by children because the time in the intervals between large events no longer are cause for celebration through interaction with others, but rather something to be wasted. However, the question still remains why these games or social networking sites are not good uses of time.
Ideas often are composed unexpectedly from a combination of inspiration and creativity and for this reason, most people view creativity as a vital part of keeping society progressing and improving through ideas. With the increasing dependence on technology for entertainment, people simply have less time to be innovative. In his essay “A Reunion with Boredom”, Charles Simic claims that boredom results in more creative ideas and a more grounded sense of reality. This “boredom” that he speaks of is a result from the absence of technology and a deeper connection with the outside world. This is the reason that the childlike method of ignoring periods of time because they are not as prominent as others is unsatisfying. Van Gogh found inspiration for greatness looking up at the stars even though it was not a large event or even necessary so although they may not be exciting or hopeful at the time, these small moments better connect us with the world and give meaning to our lives in the small way that big occurrences can overlook. But now that we have established the importance of the in between times, we need to establish why technology cannot always be an effective filler for these moments. In her article “Creativity on the Run”, Diane Darrow quotes Paul Torrance by saying that creativity is “the process of sensing problems or gaps in information, forming ideas or hypotheses, testing, modifying these hypotheses and communicating the results. This process may lead to any one of many kinds of products — verbal and nonverbal, concrete and abstract.” By this definition, creativity is being able to find solutions to problems and modify those solutions to the particular circumstances. However, a commonly held belief is that creativity should create something unique so the only place that people can encounter the situations that present a challenge–where they have to make their own tools and discover their own resources–is in the real world. While it’s true that some technological games can present a consumer with a puzzle that they have to engineer a solution for, they restrict people to the boundaries of someone else’s thought process. By only allowing them to follow the same tracks that the designer did, people are not being given the opportunity to reach their full potential. However, this also broaches another problem with technology as a promotion for ingenuity. Torrance’s definition first states that creativity is “the process of sensing problems or gaps in information,” which indicates that the first step of being creative is to recognize the issue.When consumers are given a game that requires them to think about a dilemma, the simple existence of the game tells them there is an issue so they are not forced to register the problem on their own first. This missing step means they are not as aware and knowledgeable about the problem and are more likely to follow the movements designed by the makers of the game and not find a unique solution that would allow the process to be labeled “creative”. The outside is the only place people can truly be “creative” and reach their full potential for coming up with new ideas because there are no restrictions by other people.
Ultimately, technology can be a tool to aid in the enhancement of life, but in order to enjoy the given time to the fullest extent possible, one cannot use technology to elect which parts of life to live and which to ignore. The world can give inspiration in the most unexpected times, but it will not be found in Candy Crush.