Are we the slaves of technology?

Slaves in our own digital world

15-year-old Hannah Konzett is a "child of the digital revolution" and grew up with digital technologies. In the guest commentary, the winning text of a writing competition organized by the association "Zeitung in der Schule" (ZiS) together with the "Initiative for Teaching Entrepreneurship", the pupil gives an insight into her digital world.

Our own world is heavily influenced by digital technologies. The new media make society a lot easier in many areas - many people can hardly imagine the tasks and challenges of everyday life without smart all-rounders. The ingenious invention of the digital companion undoubtedly gives us power in many ways. But is it really we who hold the reins in this close relationship between humans and digital devices?

Although, or perhaps because, I grew up dealing with digital technologies, I have never really thought about how much I actually depend on them. I, a child of the digital revolution, spend a lot of time (too much?) In front of the screen. Nevertheless, I would definitely not call myself an addict, after all, I am not one of those freaks who cannot stand a minute without a look at their smartphone. At least I think so.

Digital universal talents

According to a market agent survey, in which 1001 people between the ages of 14 and 69 were surveyed in February of last year, almost two thirds of the Austrian population cannot imagine life without a smartphone. We unlock our cell phone around 90 times a day, according to computer scientist and author Alexander Markowetz, who researched smartphone user behavior at the University of Bonn. In his book Digital burnout. Why our constant smartphone use is dangerous he also notices that just unlocking it creates feelings of happiness. Our smartphone has long been much more than just a means to an end: advisor, helper, friend. We grant the digital universal talents access to many areas of life and thus give them the power to influence our emotions.

The phrase "to be a slave to something" can be used for the expression "to be dependent on something". In this regard, we are all "slaves" to the new media, trapped in our own digital world - a shocking finding. We rely on smart technologies that were initially intended to make work easier in certain areas, but are constantly gaining importance in our lives and are ultimately considered to be indispensable. "The things you own end up owning you." With this saying, Brad Pitt shows in the film Fight Club warning of where this dangerous spiral can lead us.

Worrying addiction

Now the question arises to me: does digitalization even give us the opportunity to overcome this dubious dependency? There is no doubt that the future will work digitally. Having knowledge and practical experience in the digital field is more important than ever, especially among young people. It is not a solution to completely detach ourselves from modern technologies. An independent life together with digital media can only be made possible if we become aware of the value of things. Cell phone remains cell phone. We are the owners. Without a smartphone we are only powerless if we give it the power to make us powerless. We have a choice. One thing should never be forgotten: We humans are the ones who created the digital world through our revolutionary way of thinking and our urge to discover and develop futuristic methods. (Hannah Konzett, April 24, 2019)

Hannah Konzett (15) visits the BG Bludenz.