When I was a little girl, I never imagined that I would grow up to be half robot. But now, one look at me is enough to prove that I, too, have joined the robot race.
At any given moment, my phone is sitting in my pocket, as if it has become such a permanent part of my body that being separated from it feels like missing a limb.
Even when I’m surrounded by people, a thin, white cord stretches all the way from my new robotic body part up to my ears, which now seem to be inseparably joined to my headphones.
My laptop is often open in front of me, sometimes with soon-to-be-due papers; sometimes with Google search results to questions I couldn’t be bothered thinking through with my own brain; but most often with multiple Internet browser tabs, each of them beckoning for my short attention span and none of them leading anywhere worthwhile.
This is the digital age, occupied by a new robot civilization with cell phones for hands and search engines for brains. And the sad thing about being a robot is my brain doesn’t have the same innovative, creative capacities that the human brain can boast of.
But then again, I don’t really need to be innovative or creative. If I have a question, Google will have an answer in 0.302092349 seconds. And if I have free time, I’ve got TV remotes and iPads at my fingertips rather than paintbrushes and paperbound books.
I am genuinely grateful for the convenience and new possibilities technology has opened up. And I am also aware that pen, paintbrush and printing press were all new technologies at some point.
But the more my robot brain grows accustomed to a constant stream of distraction, entertainment and easy answers, the less I find myself able to experience the subtleties of life where my humanity would otherwise be cultivated.
I wonder how many opportunities to grow as human beings we are missing out on because we can’t seem to take our eyes off our screens. Would we learn to be more patient if we didn’t have the option of simply putting our headphones in every time there was an obnoxious person on the bus? What thoughts would come to us if we were able to separate ourselves from the constant stream of distraction?
But we can’t run and hide from technology and nor should we. The solution isn’t severing our robotic limbs—it’s learning to grow into them, to use technology in a way that enhances our human capacities rather than stunting them.
I want to hold onto my humanity. I want to enjoy the beauty of sunsets and forests without worrying about which Instagram filter would best accompany the scene. I want the ordinary moments of life where subtle yet extraordinary moments burst through. And even if they don’t, I just want to know that I’m ready for them, because I am living like a human being.