Have We Become Too Dependent On Technology?

Editorial / Tech
technology too much

The last several decades have seen all of us rely more and more on technology for all kinds of things that we used to be able to do on our own. Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys had a tech problem with their tablets and the printers, according to an SB Nations article.  The team uses the tablets for their playbook data.  You and I know there’s always the paper version to fall back on.  Or is there?

Because of schedules, teams fly to games.  So, they’re not going to haul around full paper copies of the playbook.  It’s inconvenient and it’s added weight.  But Monday night, they probably regretted that.  Not only were the tablets not working, but the available printers were down, too.  So, they couldn’t print out an old fashioned paper playbook, either.  The Cowboys won, but it was a lot harder getting there, thanks to the failure of technology.

The recent Ravens-Patriots game saw the Ravens similarly hindered when the radio system they used wasn’t working.  It was needed to communicate with players and spotters and team management in the boxes.  With a loss by 4 points, that hurt the Ravens.

We’ve all heard complaints about the officiating this season.  Technology has given the home viewer a chance to see plays over, in slow motion.  And we all love those slo-mo replays in baseball of that curve ball ever so precisely over a corner of home plate.  Some of those complaints about football officiating are valid.  But there have also been times the replay review has been blamed.  But that’s an easy area to talk about.  There rarely are drastic consequences.

Let’s take our conversation on the road.  I’m one of those who can remember a time when we didn’t have cell phones.  Then, when they came out, not everyone wanted one or saw the need to have one.  And those who had them used them mostly for emergencies.  By 2009 we had smartphones, which seem to be like rabbits, multiplying in ever increasing numbers.  It’s becoming increasingly harder to find someone without a smartphone in their hand.

There seems to be something akin to smartphone addiction.  The smartphone has grown more capable than some of the early personal computers I’ve used.  It can do calculations, remind us of things we need to remember, give us news in a variety of fields, and entertain us.  Is it any wonder that we can watch people walk around reading their screens, sometimes walking into things and people?  But more importantly, it has become enough of a distraction to be a major contributor to automobile accident statistics, along with an auto’s built in tech.

We see the “Internet of Things” becoming a reality.  Refrigerators that can regulate temperature according to what it’s been told are the contents.  At some point, it will be common to use the capability of the homeowner telling the refrigerator what is being taken out, selecting a recipe from the screen on the door, and the refrigerator communicating with a “smart stove” to preheat the oven or set a burner to the right level.  We have smart thermostats, smart light bulbs, and the list continues to grow.

The football tech issues got me thinking about all that.  Have the officials and coaches gotten too reliant on technology?  I can picture the officials slipping into a mindset that they don’t have to be as careful because a challenge and review will fix things if they’re wrong.  It’s called human nature.  But more importantly, we’ve all had someone almost bump into us, walking, or (worse) crash into us driving because of distraction from a smartphone.  Then there are all those “smart” appliances and the internet of things.

I’d bet we all know someone who is technologically challenged.  They’re praying someone doesn’t make them use a smartphone.  All they want is a plain old flip phone to make calls and nothing else.  They want to turn their TV on, adjust volume and switch channels, ignoring all the other features that come in a modern TV.  And then there are the smart appliances.  They’ve been designed by engineers who think like… well… engineers.  I’m sure there are lots of fail safes built in.  But will we be ready to fall back to old fashioned ways of doing things when technology fails?

All of this makes me wonder if we don’t need some retraining to still enjoy our tech, but be more self reliant.  What do you think?


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