When I was a kid, I made up a game.
We had a cordless landline telephone in the house. Whenever it rang, I would run over and check the tiny screen for the number. From the number alone I would try to figure out who it was. Then I would pick up the phone and see whether I got it right.
Like most kid’s games, ‘Guess Who Called’ wasn’t the most complex or deep. Still, I remember how proud I was at being correct most of the time. Even when I got it wrong and belted out a cheery hello to the wrong person, it felt like learning something and giving my brain a bit of exercise.
Now, I barely remember my own mobile number, let alone anyone else’s. My trusty contact list does that for me. After all, committing faulty numbers to my memory just risks confusion.
I find myself falling into this habit all the time.
I’ve always been pretty good at quick math. But when I was buying groceries the other day I opened up the calculator app just to make sure 7+8 was… yes, 15.
My pens and notepads, carefully picked to inspire me, are starting to gather dust. I just note everything down on my phone anyway. Typing has become faster and more convenient than pouring out your thoughts onto pieces of paper. Sometimes my mind runs ahead of my hand’s ability to write and I’ve become too impatient to wait.
But, weirdly, this convenience comes with its own problems.
Sure, I can note down all my stray thoughts as soon as they come up. But, maybe because it was so effortless, I completely forget about all the notes I take. Inevitably, I miss something and feel guilty about it. And then the whole thing repeats.
There are advantages to going slow too. Forcing myself to sit down with my thoughts and write them out gave me structure and calmness. That pace gave me space. And when you approach something that way, you question a lot of things, right?
It’s not just personal stuff. This problem has crept its way into my work and studies too.
If I’m rushing to finish an assignment at the last minute, there’s always the lure of the latest artificial intelligence. I could save so much time if I allowed chatGPT to cut a few corners. After all, it can do my work so much better than I can!
But wait, isn’t that terrifying? And what do I actually get out of it?
Do I actually learn and understand the tasks and material I’m supposed to tackle? After I hand in the assignment, exam, or quiz, I keep thinking I could have come up with better answers and examples than this automatic script if I had been a bit more organised.
So, I grab all the latest apps for every little task. To make my day easier. Apps to track my sleep, my mood, my habits. To up that efficiency and pump that productivity.
So, why do I keep picking up my phone for every little thing and lose myself in the endless stream of content? Why is it that I’ve spent 30 minutes doing nothing instead of sending that email I meant to? Wasn’t I supposed to be getting better?
With tech, everything is easy. A few taps and we are inundated with stimulation. Our minds can race like ping pong balls through likes, comments, and any other notification. We’re always chasing the next high.
But maybe, sometimes, it can be good for things to be a little hard. To face some resistance. Some friction. Without making mistakes, can we really learn? Can we truly improve and push ourselves forward? Can we realise our full potential?
There are many ways that making life easier is a blessing. But if our reliance on tech undermines our ability to develop and tackle our own issues, we may lose too much in the process.
Some things, like the oxygen we breathe, can’t be replaced. So let’s not be too hasty to replace ourselves.
This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.