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Living With Information Technology

by Mr. Ben

The following is a conversation I personally witnessed between Ms Sarah and her son, Peter, over a decade ago.

In a Living Room: Peter is heavily engrossed in surfing the Internet. He is actually chatting with his multiple friends on Snapchat social media. His mother is concerned. Staring at her son, while I, his friend, am engaged in intense study of Robert Green’s 48 Laws of Power, Ms Sarah can’t help but stand up and call his attention.

Ms Sarah: Peter, what do you think you’re doing?

Peter (answers indifferently): Just Snapchatting...

Ms Sarah (wonders): Snapchatting? What do you mean?

Peter: I’m chatting with my friends. Snapchat is a social media network where people hook up and chat with each other with no stress...You know, taking snaps while chatting...

Ms Sarah (looks a bit convinced but still expresses utmost concern): I see. Good to know you have a network of friends you’re communicating with. But that’s not the issue...

Peter (momentarily takes a break from his Internet surfing to look at her intently): What’s the issue, Mom? Anything the problem?

Ms Sarah (uses her right index finger to point at me, sitting on the couch, opposite Peter): Look at your friend, Ben. Take a good look at him. He’s buried neck-deep in what he’s reading. And here you are... busy... just chatting with your so-called friends and indeed... taking snaps!

Peter (takes a look at me and the book. I chuckle as he shakes his head in utter disappointment): Why would you have to talk to me in that manner? You know well, Mom, that he is an avid reader of books and I’m a communicator. Communication — or better still, communicating with people — gives me pleasure! Snapchat is indeed communication made easy through pictures! I know my exams are just by the corner. I know what to do, Mom.

Ms Sarah (expresses her disappointment but strikes warning notes): Listen to your talk. You’re busy chatting with your friends on matters most likely unconnected with your exams. I, your mother, know what you’re capable of. Don’t you see what your friend is doing? Getting to know through actual reading. Look at you being swallowed up in your trivial nonsense you call chatting.

Snapchat is good, don’t get me wrong! I know you can still use Snapchat to get across to your friends, taking snapshot of the books you’ve read, engaging them in thorough discussions regarding your exams. Not chatting unnecessarily!

Like I’ve mentioned, son, I, your mother, know what you’re capable of. Now,let me tell you the following: You’ve better learn to snap the images of the words in your books into your brain and chat with them through muttering. That is the surest way of getting to know things.

Also, learn to prioritize your activities. I’m not saying you shouldn’t engage in this. All I’m saying is for you to endeavour to make paramount the needful. As in your case, you should be reading your books, just as your friend is doing.

Then, when you’re done with your exams, you can have more than enough time for all the chatting in the world, on your so-called Snapchat. Don’t be distracted. Stay focused, Peter.

Ms Sarah leaves the Living Room. Peter returns to his usual Internet surfing and chatting with his friends. I’m still in the mood for serious reading.

As the world draws closer to a hundred-percent technology-driven village, we will have to unequivocally come to terms with weighing the pros and cons of our existence in relation to the available technologies we have at our disposal.

Technology — particularly, the household name, the Internet — has great merit in our lives, and the same applies to its demerits. However, we will consider three pros and cons of the use of the Internet technology as it affects us.

To begin with, the Internet technology can give room for many distractions (especially) to young people. This becomes the plight of juveniles — even young and old adults — who find topsy-turvy to prioritize what, in their lives, should be the “needful” when using the service.

It is no denying of the fact that the Internet makes available, at no cost, information resources for use. Howbeit, if an individual surfing has no defined intent, he or she will be carried away by other “attention-catching distractions.” Before eyes would blink, the day is over!

Peter, whose name was earlier mentioned, could have used the Internet to gain better information — better than my just reading a book relatively limited in information — that would be instrumental to his eventual “coming out with flying colours” on his exams. Instead, he made paramount chatting with his friends, and who knows if he really chatted with them about his forthcoming exams?!

Besides, the use of the Internet affords the “anomalies” in communication. Back then, when I was growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, if my mother sent a letter to the U.S. or UK, she would have to wait for several weeks to get a reply by mail. But, thanks to the Internet, messages can be sent and replied to in less than a minute!

If you had told me a time would come in my life when I’ll communicate with the world at large at about the same time, I’d take your view with a pinch of salt. That would be an anomaly to me. But, as it stands, the “truth” is staring at me! On the other hand, the Internet has proven to be a reliable platform for fraudsters to perpetuate their cynical intents. Victims are seldom oblivious to their tricks. The Internet provided fee fraudsters camouflage as well-meaning individuals, companies, and organizations depicting transparency.

Alas, the unsuspecting victims are drawn to their web of being swindled. A typical instance is increasingly-alarming growing rate of Internet fraud in Nigeria, popularly known as “Yahoo, Yahoo.” Foreigners — usually victims of their scam tactics — have attested to how they were swindled by them, their money and other valuable taken away from them through “broad-day super-highway robbery.” They assert how genuine they appear, then oblivious of the consequence, give in to their traps, their pseudo charity programs, creation of tourist attractions in the form of proposals, and other too-good-to-be-true constructs.

Not forgetting those who, in the name of finding “the right life partners,” have their money and most-prized possessions denied them in a similar manner by the presentation of fake pictures, addresses and other designs by fraudsters on the Internet.

Moreover, the Internet technology has a way of questioning values. Following the instance previously given, my mom would have to wait — exercise some patience — for several weeks to receive the response mail. These days, however, she wouldn’t have to wait that long for a response. Everything is done fast! If I sent an email to someone, it is anticipated — if the person is online — to reply me before the day is over. I can get my messages sent and responded to faster.

On second thought, is that really all? The imbibed attitude of the fast-paced generation mentality is apparently surmounting being “patient.” People are in a haste to get things done. Businesses, trade relations and many other thriving identities are given the expedited push to meet “certain deadlines.” Thanks to digital technology! But what do you expect? Of course, less than the authentic! To an extent, it has done more harm than good when it comes to being committed.

In the conversation, Ms Sarah stressed the need for her son to read and get prepared for his forthcoming examinations. What was his response? “I know my exams are just around the corner; I know what to do, Mom.” Without a doubt, there is this thought that he would, at the time for him, read through his books, because the Internet is available for use. Unfortunately, this is tantamount to procrastination — a thief of time! — and indolence likely to be engendered by the reluctance to read through his books painstakingly.

In closing, there are two sides — two pros and cons — to living with technology. It is our onus to prioritize the needful: either we let technology be the aid to our meaningful existence or a way of truncating the validity of our existence. It is simply up to us to decide how Living With Technology would play out in our lives!

Copyright © 2017 by Mr. Ben

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