30 November 2014

It’s incredible how technology has evolved over the past fifteen years. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that people were using floppy disks and fax machines, yet I’m willing to bet there are people out there reading this who don’t remember a time before the internet as we know it.

I think it goes without saying that I’m passionate about making the pace of technology even faster; I’d be in the wrong industry if I didn’t. Used to its potential, technology simplifies things; it helps people to achieve things and it opens up new and exciting opportunities for learning. People are writing software that’s easy to play with and program, which is encouraging more and more people to be creative and figure out intuitive and imaginative shortcuts.

That being said, I still think we have to be careful not to allow technology to replace our emotional connection with other human beings. Isn’t that the point; the reason we exist?

Now I know you’re probably thinking I’ve been reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and looking for the answer to the ultimate question, but if you are trying to achieve more and learn about yourself, it stands to reason that curiosity should play a big part in that. I’m no philosopher; far from it in fact, but I do get a great deal of satisfaction from observing others.

One of the things I have noticed more and more is what I mentioned before about replacing human interaction with technology. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with carrying your phone around everywhere with you – I’m guilty of that myself and spend a lot of time juggling calls and catching up on things (the notion that men can’t multitask is a myth) – I would never replace the moments that matter – eye contact or a hug – with technology.

Having said that, I think it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of switching off and not noticing the people around you. How often do we take the time to acknowledge somebody; to smile at them, even? Would we talk to a stranger if they looked upset, maybe offer them a word of comfort?

I recently read a story that reminded me of the power that something as simple as a smile can have. It read:

“A man makes his way across the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s passed by pedestrians and cyclists, and steps around tourists taking pictures. He gazes up at the reddish-orange towers soaring above, and then climbs over the bridge’s four-foot safety railing. He steps out onto a 32 inch wide beam known as ‘the chord,’ pauses, takes one last long look out at the bay, and then jumps.

Later, when the medical examiner located and searched the man’s apartment, he found a note he had written and left on his bureau: ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.'”

Technology is an incredible thing. I can’t wait to see the opportunities it opens up in the years to come. But behind it all – behind all of the smartphones, the drones and the laptops – are people.

Who have you smiled at today?

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