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Don’t let technology taint your attitude

POSTED January 8, 2013 7:09 p.m.

As we plow through this new year head on and heartened, it is a given that we will encounter technology in its newest and most thrilling forms. However, the ever-increasing reliance on digital devices poses some thorny questions about what technology could be doing to our attitudes.

The proof is in the pudding as the primary purpose of most digital devices today is to cater to our ease and to gratify information needs at our beck and call. Most are easily available, portable, and operable and are constantly revolutionizing education, careers, and communication. But nevertheless, continued use of technology as a crutch arouses a chilling feeling that we could be poised on the brink of a slippery slope towards laziness, restlessness, and absentmindedness.

And while this trio of weighty words may seem a bit of a stretch at the outset, a glance around reveals that applicable examples permeate our world daily.

For a sample of laziness, consider the array of online forums that give one the opportunity to display homework questions and rapidly receive answers from virtual friends, possibly allowing one to dodge the hassle of arranging a time to discuss subject material weak points with the teacher. Surely such can set the stage for a sorry scene of slacking, as one can seemingly forgo the genuine activeness needed in solving true issues or seeking out meaningful assistance.

To see where the seeds of restlessness can sprout, consider the enormous success of Siri, a natural language user interface on the latest iPhone versions. With Siri, folks can orally pose a question of nearly any sort and receive a viable response within seconds. But surely this ease is capable of hampering our ability to summon the powers of concentration to painstakingly pour over books, atlases, newspapers, encyclopedias, etc. should the need arise.

In terms of absentmindedness, consider the low number of people who even own the book form of a dictionary, with most folks instead opting for a Merriam-Webster app or an online version of a dictionary to rapidly find definitions and learn pronunciations. Compare this with the traditional process of mastering the art of the alphabetical system in order to locate words and making sense of the various phonetic symbols in order to pronounce words, and the recent road to a mind-numbed society becomes readily apparent.

Clearly technology makes an unsightly mark on our minds, but on the same note, it is certainly neither practical nor necessary to forgo the digital world. As we continue to dip into the reservoir of remarkable technological products, we can indeed learn to steer clear of the muddled residue of laziness, restlessness, and absent-mindedness. The key here is to simply fine-tune our attitudes.

One individual who has devoted his life to examining this approach is Jeff Keller, an author and the founder of Attitude is Everything, Inc. Equating one’s mindset with one’s personal window into today’s world, he notes in his best-selling book, "Attitude is Everything."

“We all start out in life with a good attitude — or, should I say, a clean mental window…but as you know, there comes a point where life starts throwing some dirt at our windows,” Keller writes.

“The problem is, the dirt keeps building up, and all too many people do nothing about it.”

But Keller also sees the flip side of the token, particularly that this attitude issue has a solution, and an incredibly rewarding one at that.

“You see, you always have a choice,” he argues. “You can leave the filth on your window and look at life through a smeared glass. But…there’s a better way. When you choose to take out your squeegee and clean your window, life will be brighter and sunnier…you’re dreams will come alive again!”

Granted such words may appear a bit too idealistic at the outset, there certainly are some important embers we can take from this and hopefully use to reignite an attitude reform. One can even fashion this “purge your attitude” tip into a sort of grand (and belated) New Year’s resolution, but simply bearing it in mind will do as one continues to weather the laziness, restlessness, and absent-mindedness of a digitally-dominated world.

Suffice to say, the tides of technology will surely toss us around as we proceed through the years; we can only be mindful in tidying up our attitudes if we hope to make it through level-headed, mentally-grounded, sound, and steady.

  — Henna Hundal is a high school student and resident of Turlock. She writes a monthly column on matters related to youth and our society

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