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Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Apps: A Notification of Distraction?

Tech is amazing, no matter what a detractor might say to the contrary. Every day, I wake up and check my phone to see all of the updates that came overnight. 60 emails, 10 Twitter notifications, 2 text messages and 6 personal Facebook notifications, not including the GeekOut specific ones. But in a world that’s constantly connected, sometimes, it can feel like all of this tech has turned into one big distraction.

There are times when even I think it’s a bit too much, I being someone who’s a massive advocate of tech in general. I love how we can with the push of a button let our loved ones know we’re still here, but sometimes I feel like these modern day distractions can make people forget what’s important behind each person’s existence. We become a message, we become a part of a routine – We simply stop being people.

Go ahead, look at your phone right now and tell me if you’re free of notifications. If you are, well, fair enough – You may have found the right balance. But in an increasingly digital era, we’re getting more and more apps demanding more and more attention, until we’re all relying on our devices too much. Our news and media, our friends, our family – Even those seeking love, we all rely on apps and these modern day distractions.

WhatsApp – An example of a great communication app

This is a weird article for me to write; as I’m a supporter of the apps that I’m now calling a distraction. I love to see new apps come out, I love to play new games on the app store – I love what tech can do to make our lives easier. Sometimes, however, I find technology has consumed us as much as we have consumed it. There’s a lack of humanity when all we’ve been reduced to is a message, just a notification on a small device.

Don’t get me wrong, some distractions are important. High priority emails, emergency messages from friends and family, Facebook notifications announcing births, weddings and more. These modern day distractions are important; they keep us in touch – But the world too is getting increasingly small. With advances in transportation and indeed with modern apps, we’re able to arrange to meet with people quicker and faster.

This is a part of why I made GeekOut South-West; this is a part of why Joel runs GeekOut West-Midlands and why we hope more people will join us in running GeekOut branded events. We want to see people be able to get together once more, to chat, to share. Sure, our little devices are important to us, but what can be more important than actually sharing our experiences with one another?

I may be pushing on a strange subject for me, but I feel passionately about getting people to chat. I feel as if we, as a civilisation, owe it to each other to just interact. Do I think we’ll get even better tech over the years? Absolutely. I feel as if tech is the solution to a lot of our problems, except for one. Our social problems. Meetups of the future have a lot of issues they need to consider – Some we’ve already considered.

In the past, I’ve wanted to run Meetups with “virtual access”, allowing people around the world to take part. But the problem with that is having someone sit at a computer, or watch on their phone and potentially there being nothing for them to do. Perhaps seminars, perhaps workshops and more can be done in this capacity in the future – Hey, we already have Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are typically free. If you don’t know what I mean by this, check out Coursera and Udemy.

Sometimes it’s best to actually say or share things you’re passionate about in person.

Whilst I do believe that tech can help us with our social problems, I also believe that at the moment, notifications are not the best way to resolve that. Tech will currently turn someone from being a tangible, real person into another number to respond to. I wake up every morning with so many notifications – And sometimes, I just sigh and clear them off, checking them instead on my morning bus journey to the day job. If only there was a better way, but for now, these modern day distractions may be the best we have, until someone comes up with a better system. Hey, on the new site I’m building, notifications are a part of that journey – But if there was a better way of delivering information, you can bet I’d go for it.

Tech will help us be even more social; but right now, all in all you’re all just another notification on the wall – The Facebook wall, the Twitter wall, the wall of emails, it goes on. If someone ignores your message, consider this – How often does that person get notifications? Are they ignoring you, or are they stuck with a lot of modern day distractions? Are you one of these people, consumed by the very tech they consume? Share your frustrations below, or over on Facebook and Twitter… And hey, you too can be added to the wall of notifications!

P.S: This isn’t a dig at anyone or anything in particular. I accumulate a lot of notifications and am asked by a lot of people to do a lot of things. As such, this article was more a way for me to vent. I’m sure you too have had times when you just needed to vent. Hopefully you enjoyed it and perhaps some of you share my sentiments!

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