Technology considered harmful

My parents are in Boulder from Alaska for a few weeks. I don't get to see them that much.

This morning I helped them find a great hike to do in the area at Hall Ranch ( http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/hall-ranch.html ) which is about 20 miles away in a town called Lyons. My folks had never been there so my mother asked me for directions. My dad has an iPhone and showed just how cool it is to be able to do a search in maps and get directions just like that - technology to the rescue!

On the way to work I had a bit of a bad feeling: did I really just help my mom? Instead of showing her how to use some neat-o bit of technology I could have just taken 30 seconds to give her directions. Why didn't I?

Technology is here to help us. It's a tool to make our lives easier and happier. Right?

Wrong. Technology is just a tool, like any other - it's the relationship to it's user that makes it helpful or harmful. If we assume for a minute, that what makes people happy is their relationships with other people (a safe assumption - http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/connecting/connection-happiness) then any application that actually reduces human connection may not be helpful in the long term.

It's true, being able to pull up a map when you are alone and lost is truly helpful. But actually talking to your son, or even a stranger, instead of using an 'app' when you need directions is undoubted a more profound experience for both people.

Does your technology promote self reliance and less human interaction?

If so, it's at risk of being actually harmful to people - regardless of how much it might help the individual in that moment.