Technology: “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” ~Max Frisch, c.1960s

 

Max Frisch speaks of a tragic reality that I, as well as many others, face everyday.

I often look at photographs–especially now on social media–and find myself in awe of all the beauty in the world. I have watched movies and imagined myself traveling around like my favorite characters. For example, I fell in love with Greece through the experiences of Lena in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. While playing MX, a PS2 game, as a young kid, I felt as if I had learned how to dirt bike, four wheel, and even drive helicopters.  I spend many hours every day listening to music, able to replay my favorites and skip the ones I do not know. I become politically aware through television, radio, and more social media posts than I would like to admit. I spend a lot of time looking at images and listening to recordings. I formulate many opinions based on things I have retained without so much as moving a foot.

 

And I am far from alone.

 

Everyday more and more people find themselves trapped inside. Jobs are often in front of computers that prevent workers from moving. Amusement parks and virtual reality simulators synthesize things like hang gliding. Friends and families communicate through text, or video chat, if they are lucky. As more and more functions and activities can be completed with technology, it becomes faster and more comfortable to simply not interact with people.

 

This avoidance is why Frisch said, “[people] don’t have to experience it” (italics mine).

 

I have friends who have never talked with a bank teller. They do not know how to write, nor deposit checks because they have always used direct deposit or transfer. I have been out to meals with incredibly bright people who have used tip calculating apps on their phones to pay the bill, and everyday here at Colby College, students drive to the gym in order to run on treadmills.

 

Perhaps it is fear of embarrassment that prevents people from walking into the bank and asking for help making a deposit, but they are missing out on human interaction. Perhaps it is a disliking of the air temperature or humidity level that prevents people from simply running to the gym, but they are not experiencing the change in seasons or freshness in the air. Whatever it is, we need to face it. Technology has been an enabler that has taken too much from our lives. It is not a matter of needing real experiences, as Frisch states, but rather knowing their true value.

 

Photographs are most valuable as reminders of real experiences. Climb Mt. Washing, ski the bowl, or drive to the top and feel the ripping wind against your face. Then use the picture to remember how it felt. I do not have a clue as to whether or not I actually love Greece–I have never experienced the culture. MX might have been fun while I was younger, but it does not compare to the rush I get winding through trails and tearing the mud up behind me now. I used to like music, but I found a new love for it after hearing live music and feeling the energy of the performer engulf the people around me. As far as my political experiences go, the two hours I spent at a political rally and the one day I spent dressed in pink marching through Portland trumps everything I have read online or heard on the news.

 

Frisch speaks frankly, and he forces us to face the sad reality that there is less face to face communication and less appreciation for our surroundings because of what technology provides. However, this is about more than simply facing a problem–it is about realizing all that we are missing out on, and getting it back.