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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Being tech-savvy or tech-dependent

AREN’T we very fortunate to have been born in an era where technology is so easily accessible?

Could we go on with life if, one day, aliens sucked all of our gadgets away?

It would probably be considered the end of the world by many people. How different would life be?

I can’t talk. But I could read and write before I turned four. However, to me, writing used to mean typing on a letter-board.

I would touch the letters slowly and my mother would write them on a piece of paper to decipher my message. Then she taught me how to type using a digital keyboard. Life became a little easier.

Shortly after that, we were introduced to WordQ, an assistive technology software. It has a word prediction tool that suggests words that I may want to use, which speeds up my typing. It also reads the text I type out loud, which gives me a voice. My life depends on technology.

Take a look around you. Try visualising a life devoid of technology.

Perhaps, one day, you may get stranded on an island far away from civilisation. How long you manage to survive like Robinson Crusoe really depends on how much you let your life hinge on technology.

Most of the people I know own a mobile device, be it a smartphone, laptop or tablet. Being seen as technologically-savvy seems to be a favourite pastime amongst teens.

Devices to impress

Obtaining the latest gadget has become a trend.

Somehow, the sophisticated device they own always becomes obsolete within a few months.

Really, it makes no sense to change a device simply to be seen as a technology geek.

Can’t they master a gadget before declaring that a very advanced and complicated system is now out-of-date?

All that some teens seem to care about is chatting mindlessly on some social network or being obsessed with the highest score in a computer game.

Now that so much has been said about the average teenager, I have to defend the other group which views technology as a tool to get ahead in life.

Vast differences can be observed between these two groups.

Dwelling on some idle chat about something that means nothing definitely does not fascinate everyone. These people constantly seize any opportunity that comes along. They are the ones who would be capable of staying ahead even if technology was completely wiped out.

As I quietly watched some videos on how technology is being used to improve the quality of life in some developing countries, I thought that they were certainly stories that should be shared with teenagers across the world.

Although they have been deprived of ultra-modern technology, they can still accomplish so much. Their accomplishments appear to be on par with that of their counterparts in developed countries.

Rather effortlessly, they have been able to come up with solutions through interacting with experts around the world via the Internet.

Whenever we need information, we use various search engines that will quickly churn out answers.

Given the volume of materials available these days, we need not remember so many facts.

One day, books may become obsolete. Though all this may be propelling us into a digitised future, we need to be aware that our brains cannot be replaced by some super computer.

Sieving information

Facts are only useful to someone who knows how to use them. We need our senses to select and sieve this boundless information.

To paraphrase Einstein, it is no good trying to remember all the facts in a book when you can refer to them at any time.

However, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where needing to search for information can be disastrous.

My dad is a surgeon. There have been countless times where he has had to make decisions at the flick of a moment.

Had he not at that point the ability of retrieving data from memory and using it well with ease, lives could have been lost.

Wouldn’t it be a vacuous world if we used technology only when we needed it?

Random bits of information are the basis of cumulative knowledge.

With such sophisticated technology available today, it should be so easy to gain knowledge. Simply said, all good information would be a waste if not used to attain practical knowledge.

If at all aliens came and sucked away all of our technology, I would be so lost in this world dominated by able-bodied people. I need these smart devices to be able to communicate and stay afloat in an ocean of knowledge that is constantly expanding. As for how others will fare, we will just have to wait for the aliens.

* Nivan Annal is a non-verbal autistic teen who has a passion for writing. His first article appeared last week. 

Tags / Keywords: Education , educate


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