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SXSWi: Is technology taking over our lives?

Jackie Lampugnano

Absolutely. When I sat in the session, The 90 Minute Solution: Live Life Like a Sprinter, I thought: “Is this guy really going to try to tell us we can’t multitask?” Especially given that every single person at SXSW has their tablet, smartphone and/or laptop on them at all times.

It’s the only place where it’s socially acceptable for every person in a group to be two-thumbing away at their phones the whole time. You’re honestly the odd man out if you aren’t checking in on Foursquare, tweeting about what you’re doing, blogging about panels after you sit in them, sharing business cards on Hashable, friending all the new people you meet on Facebook, and trying to recognize people from their social media avatars.

So, that being said, when Tony Schwartz asked “How do we focus our attention?” I was only half-listening.

As he put it: “technology has gotten way ahead of our ability to manage it skillfully.”

Basically, what he meant is that technology nowadays is built to process tons of information in real-time…but our brains aren’t. Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy to say that to this particular crowd. He’s so right—we are not meant to operate the way technology does. But let me tell you, everyone here is trying their hardest to keep up.

We should all take a break.

Except…you know what happens when you get a break from your technology when you’re used to an iPhone being an extension of your arm? You go stir crazy.

Seriously. Anyone who might have been following my Twitter stream earlier today knows that I had a major iPhone #fail last night. Those things don’t do so well when submerged in water. This morning I literally felt lost.

I’m sure anyone here at SXSWi would feel the same way. We don’t know how to NOT be connected 24/7. Most of us probably sleep with our iPhones (although we won’t admit it).

I thought I was OK with that. Honestly. I knew what Schwartz said was right, but I knew I wouldn’t make an attempt to change my behavior. After this morning I’m second-guessing that. If I were used to taking more breaks from technology, I probably wouldn’t have felt like my kitten died (just an expression—you know what I mean).

So, aside from learning that you need to wear your hipster gear and have a Mac to fit in around here…one of the biggest SXSW lessons I learned is that yes, technology is taking over our lives, and sometimes that might not actually be such a good thing. Ironic, isn’t it?