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Appreciate Life More by Changing Your Perception of Technology

Nigel AbelloNigel Abello

Change the way you think. Change the way you see life.

Change the way you think about others and it can open up your mind’s eye to a new view of life.

We live in a world where we are all stuck in our own bubbles. I guess you can say these are bubbles of culture where we only see what we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Whether that be the way we dress, what we eat or how we act; we’re contained within these realms of culture. But I want you to change it. Change it all.

Advanced technology has made the present-day the most connected we have ever been throughout history. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? We can all be easily connected to one another online yet we rarely reach out to others around the world.

So as I begin to explain how we’ve been brainwashed into these bubbles of comfortability, I want you to think to yourself if you’ve ever tried experiencing life from a different perspective.

Let me start off with a little story. My eldest brother has been working at JB Hi-Fi for many years and so along the way our house has always been updated with the newest and greatest technology. As a young kid, I knew that if I had good grades I would be rewarded, so now our house is essentially a ‘man-cave’. From all versions of the PlayStation to both a Wii and WiiU plus TV’s all through the house. I thought that our house was the norm. I thought everyone had Blu-ray players and surely everyone didn’t buy DVD’s anymore. I mean it’s all outdated, right?

Oh, how wrong I was.

I also started working at JB Hi-Fi towards the end of 2014, I quickly learnt that not every household was the same as ours. The majority of sales made throughout the day are software sales – games, DVDs, Blu-rays and music CDs and vinyl. What surprised me even more, was the fact that there are more DVDs sold than Blu-rays. I thought the whole time my house was on the same playing field as the general population, but in fact we actually a small percentage of those who are a bit more technologically fortunate than the rest.

More so, whilst studying at university I’ve been lucky enough to have electives where I can choose any subjects. I wanted to study something different from my science subjects so I decided to choose an anthropology subject. If you’re not familiar with anthropology it’s the comparative science that seeks to understand humans in their natural, social and cultural environments. In other words, it studies how humans interact with different cultures around the world.

Specifically, there was a reading about the social logistics of mobile technology in India by Sirpa Tenhunen that has continued to resonate with me. If you’re interested in the article, read it here. In this article Tenhunen examines the effects of mobile phone communication in villages all around the world, specifically rural India – how they perceive mobile communication, how they use it and the cultural impacts it has on the individuals involved.

There were 4 main aspects of the impact of mobile phones in these rural Indian villages:

  1. Increase efficiency of the market,
  2. Facilitate alternative social patterns,
  3. Help women broaden their culturally constructed sphere, and
  4. Invigorate kinship and village sociality.

Tenhunen outlines that daily practices of technology can have interesting implications when it is given a human meaning. In relation to mobile phones, he suggests that they not only provide a means of social communication but it enables the individual to use it as a tool to improve their quality of life. Isn’t that just crazy? In other parts around the world, people actually use mobiles to access market information, save time, bring security, discover job and education opportunities whilst empowering people to transform their lives.

In comparison to my ‘Westernised’ manner of using phones in a very social light-hearted context, he describes that rural Indians use phones as a cherished asset in their lives. With text messages rarely used due to illiteracy, Indians have resorted to short, sharp and concise phone calls to minimise costs whilst being more efficient in business processes.

This article brings to light the discrepancies in mobile phone use from rural Indian methods to how I would use phones. In a bigger context, it highlights cultural relativism - how media is culturally concerned and the approaches in which different cultures utilise that media.

This highlights that humans are all stuck in different cultural bubbles throughout the world.

Creativity & Innovation exists outside the social norm

Different cultures will manipulate and utilize technology to suit their social needs. It's great that ultimately it is the people who will determine the use of technology, rather than technology determine the actions of humans. However, when we get stuck in these bubbles of 'social norms' we often fail to realise new potential and opportunity. The same applies to any aspect of life, not just technology.

If you want to start thinking differently and realise new perspective I encourage you to do this little activity below:

In my opinion, one way to break your social bubble is to explore and venture out. Go to India if you want to see how they actually use mobile phones but if you can’t get outdoors and go to a different community. Go to a different city. Go out and be open to anything new. See where it can lead you and see how much you learn about this connected world we all live in.

Nigel Abello
Thanks for reading guys!

Nigel Abello

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