What Technology Most Impacts Your Life?

There is little doubt that technology impacts our lives every single day. It is one of the defining characteristics of the human race. For better or worse, the devices we have constructed have allowed transformative change for how we live, as well as for the planet we live on.

Some technology is obviously good. We have extended life spans, reduced or eliminated diseases, and increased the available food supply.

However, there is a dark side to it, as well. Climate change, species extinction, and overpopulation are the consequences of some of these technological innovations.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Is technology neutral?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Freedom or security?’


On a personal level, which inventions or innovations have made the biggest impact on your life? Perhaps a medical advance that saved your life? Eyeglasses that allow you to see clearly? Printing presses that allow for knowledge aggregation? Indoor plumbing to reduce disease and increase comfort? Airplanes that allow you to travel just about anywhere on the surface of the earth? The Internet for pulling together so many different areas of information? Or the smartphone that allows you to bring it with you wherever you go?

What technology most impacts your life? Which one has most negatively impacted your life?

Related questions: What skills have you lost due to technology? What role does technology play in your life? Will technology save us? What new technology do you want? Is technology neutral?

Who Is In Your Credits Reel?

Do you have an important project, favorite pastime, or significant period of your life? Of course you do; everyone does. Now, imagine it as a movie. Since this movie features you, you decide to stick around through the credits reel. Who would make the post-movie scroll of names?

For example, perhaps you trained for and ran a marathon. Who trained with you for the event? Was it just you? Did a few friends join you? Or did you run with a running club? Did someone coach you or the group? These people definitely fit in the cast.

The people who supported you in your training are also important. Some, most certainly, also fit in the cast. But some belong to the movie’s crew. Who provided you with weekly mileage and running time advice? If you ran with a club, a trained group leader likely filled this role. If it was just you or you and some friends, maybe you followed a book’s advice. Who was the author?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss the question: ‘How do you show thanks?’ as well as a bonus question, ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’


On a more personal level, did your spouse or roommates take care of many of the household chores during the time you spent training? On a grander scale, do you know who staffed the race’s starting or finish line roles? Who took care of the water stops?

In addition, let’s assume you are even interested in some of the smaller roles. Movies often credit caterers. Did your neighborhood deli sell you an awesome sandwich to replenish your carbs and protein after each of your long training runs? Now, on to the movie’s soundtrack. On your solo training runs did you listen to a favorite playlist?

Of course, running a marathon is not the only potential “movie” in your life. Did friends help you with a major house renovation? Did doctors, a therapist, friends, and neighbors ever help you through a terrible illness? Each one could have it’s own movie, and therefore it’s own credits reel.

A credits reel is a decent metaphor to help you classify, name, and show gratitude for who helped you as you worked on finishing a project, improving in your hobby, or helping you accomplish or make it through an important period of your life.

So have at it. Think of a movie about you you’d like to watch. Who is in your credits reel?

Related questions: How do you show thanks? What are you grateful for? Who is your MVP for the year? Who would you like to give a shut out to right now?

How Do You Want This To Change You?

There are many questions that arise due to the pandemic and our efforts to deal with it. One question that I have not seen much of yet: How do you want this to change you?

The Opportunity

While the reasons for it are regrettable (for some heartbreaking), we live in a time of remarkable opportunity. Our normal, daily routine has been completely upended. Moreover, we don’t know when things will change, or what the end state of our world will be.

This means we have a chance to have a larger impact on our own future lives, and the future condition of our entire society right now.

Think back to before self-isolation started, before schools were closed and people started wearing masks. The thought of making changes, on an individual or collective level, was daunting to say the least. Could you imagine not driving everywhere all the time? Could you imagine working from home?

But now we see what kind of change is possible, if we want it enough and agree to make it happen. For instance, massive, structural changes to address climate change is possible. Evictions can be stopped. Paid sick leave, universal health care, and working from home can be done.

Making Change

But in order for those things, or others, to happen, we have to want them and be willing to change our behaviors in order to make them happen. We have to convince our elected leaders we want these things. And if we are told they aren’t possible, we know that’s simply not true, because we have seen them happen when the need is great enough.

All this change has to start at the individual level. How do you want your life to change? Before life goes back to pre-pandemic behavior, spend some time thinking about what it is that is truly important to you. What have you learned about yourself, your community, and larger society?

Related questions: Are there unexpected benefits to what we are going through? How have you changed? How have we changed? Can people change?

Can People Change?

This is an age old question, with many examples of conventional wisdom on both sides of the debate. Can people change? Or are facets of their personality fixed forever?

On one hand, cautionary tales abound. If your spouse cheats on you, they will do so again in the future. Addicts will use again. A convicted criminal will re-offend. A liar will continue to lie. Because people don’t change.

Conversely, stories of redemption are some of the most powerful stories of all. Everyone deserves a second chance, as the saying goes. Someone who learns from a mistake and takes steps to correct it is a hero.

How you view this issue may influence how you view the criminal justice system. Is it about punishment for doing wrong, or a chance to redeem yourself as a member of society? Does someone who serves out a prison sentence deserve the benefit of the doubt? In addition, does it matter what the offense was?

If you think it is possible for a person to change, how can any improvement be shown? In other words, at what point do we accept that a lesson has been learned, or that someone is truly remorseful?

Furthermore, what about change for the worse? Someone who has previously been kind and generous and thoughtful can do something selfish or mean. At what point does it become a change in personality? Is a nice person always nice, even if they do some things that are definitely not nice?

Usually, change is the one fixture in our lives. As we age, our body goes through physical changes: we get grey hairs, wrinkles around the eyes, gain some weight. But does our personality go through similar changes? Or do we have some traits that remain constant?

Related questions: What is time? What is necessary to change your mind? How have we changed? How have you changed?

 

What Is Uncomfortable But Rewarding?

There are a number of things in life that we might find uncomfortable. Discomfort can be found all around us, in both our personal and professional lives.

These can range from something relatively innocuous (say, an itchy sweater) to something more serious (like an inappropriate joke at work). For the most part, we experience discomfort for a reason. Typically, it is an indication that something is wrong.

Sometimes, however, a feeling of discomfort can be prelude to an improvement of some sort. Most people like things that are stable, and events or people that upset that stability, even in the process of making an improvement, can be disruptive. Change is uncomfortable.

Over the last decade or so, disruption has even become a buzzword in the business (and tech) world. AirBNB has disrupted the hotel industry. Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Used in this way, the word “disruption” suggests a change introduced that may cause chaos to an established industry or service, but ultimately leads to a better product for the consumer.

What are some other examples of something that starts out being awkward or difficult, but ultimately lead to positive change or growth? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? How can we tell “positive” discomfort from the “negative”?

Related questions: When is a lie justified? When is it useful to fail? Why do we put up with unhappiness? When is doubt helpful?