Love me, love my app

Call me a Luddite and I’ll willingly accept it. I don’t tweet (or snapchat, or instagram etc. etc.), I don’t use apps, and I’m not even very keen on using my phone as a camera (too much techno-multi-tasking for my liking), although I do have an iPad which has become my holidays photo album.

I’m happy to be called a Luddite because they were trying to preserve their livelihood and identity in the face of industrialisation, lower wages and poorer working conditions, and subsequent government suppression of their resistance to this. Applying 21st century speak, one could say there was a wellbeing thing going on with what the Luddites were trying to achieve.

But there’s also an interesting parallel to be drawn with between the Luddites and society’s current infatuation with living our lives increasingly within a mobile phone or “similar device”. Some people behave like they’ve lost part of their anatomy should they accidentally leave their phone at home when they go out.

The need for human memory is declining because we can look it up on our phone. The need to make shopping choices is decreasing as our personal preferences can be dissected in forensic detail through the purchases that we make and then regurgitated to us via our phone. And through the development of apps that help us monitor our moods and feelings we can “experience” more and more of our emotional life via our phone rather than tap in (pardon the pun) to what’s happening inside our actual minds and bodies.

Of course, mobile technology does have real benefits and, if it can help improve wellbeing, that’s good. But if we’re not sure about our wellbeing until we’ve checked on our phone then it suggests that something strange and slightly perturbing is going on – our minds and brains are gradually being externalised into ever more powerful silicon chips.

Should we be concerned about this? I’m not sure. I certainly rely on Google and Wikipedia for fingertips facts. But it doesn’t seem quite right that there does appear to be a process of ‘automatonisation’ (becoming like a robot), whereby our inner worlds are being dug out and removed to a piece of technology.

How much should we be concerned? I don’t know, but I’m sure there will soon be an app that can tell us. What might need to be done? Well, the Luddites paid dear for their resistance but they certainly made their mark.