In our day and age, technology is omnipresent and an integral part of our lives. However, although the main purpose of technology is to make our life easier, the reactions and opinions on technology are very diverse. This year, various sessions at the Women’s Forum covered the influence of new technologies on our daily life. It is worthwhile analyzing two contrasting perspectives in depth, to understand how broad this debate is.
On the one hand, technology and digital media can be a great help to reach out to other people and spread your message to a very large platform. The session “How to be a digital influencer” this past Thursday was analyzing exactly this question, and introduced various platforms and strategies on how to use the digital world to your advantage. “Social media removes all distances: geographic, social, hierarchical. You can reach anyone, at any time, and communicate in real time. Thus, a permanent link of communication has been created,” said Julien Maldonate, a senior manager at Deloitte.
He also said that today everyone has the ability to transmit knowledge, and thus credibility of the creator of the knowledge is more important than ever before. Amina Belghiti, Partnerships Manager at Facebook, describes how technology has taken the universal communication method of story telling and transformed it, in a way that now more stories can reach more people through social media platforms than ever before. She recommends that people find their digital media voice, tell sharable stories, and drive engagement. Also, it is very important to be authentic and truly passionate about the message you are trying to convey through the digital media.
Another session, the very same day, analyzed how exactly the opposite is true and how new technologies actually cause stress and suffering, because of a concept referred to as “Infobesity.” During this session, Delphine Remy-Boutang — the founder and CEO of The Social Bureau — and Christophe Aguiton — researcher at the Orange Labs — argued that due to the acceleration of our lives led by the acceleration of technology, we have changed the way we consume and generate information. People are trying to live 10 lives at once and a lot of stress and anxiety occurs from that. The two speakers even argue that we are suffering from digital bulimia, meaning that we take in a lot of information at once, without really processing it for ourselves, and in turn create a lot of new information. Thus, as Christophe Aguiton says, “We are at the same time creators and victims of information overload.”
Thus, it is obvious that technological advancement has failed at its mission of making everybody’s life easier, as many people are reacting negatively to it. As Dolphine Remy-Boutant put it: “It is really a paradox: On the one hand, the technology we are surrounding ourselves with is designed to give us more time for ourselves — which is something we all want. However, today, while technology is as developed as ever before, we are living in a time with the biggest scarcity of time.”
Christophe Aguiton explained this phenomenon by saying “The invention of the car allowed us to save time, when compared to walking. However, it also made us want to go further by giving us this option, so overall we spend more time getting to places. The same is true for other technologies — we want to travel to more countries, learn more, fall in love more often. The search for content and experience has become the meaning of life for many.”
So whether technology is aiding our life and making it easier, or creating new challenges and stress for us, really depends on how we react and interact with the new technologies. If — when technology solves one of our problems — we keep immediately coming up with new, larger problems, no technology will ever be able to satisfy our constantly new needs. However, if we allow technology to make our life easier, and focus more on the quality, rather than the quantity of life, and also learn how to use technology to our greatest advantage — such as how to use it to influence others — we can all greatly benefit.