In the old Sephardic language Judeo-Español, there is an expression my mother used to say: todu que es demasiado no vale. Translation: anything that is too much is no good.
I was eating dinner with a famous doctor and jokingly asked, “While you are standing on one foot, tell me, what is health all about? In a word, what do I need to do to be healthy?” And he said, “Moderation; if you eat too many strawberries and only strawberries, you'll get sick, too.” Too much of anything is not good.
My mother was right, then.
In the so-called developed world, we have too much technology. It is supposed to empower us but my insight is that it is disempowering. How do I operate the iPhone, the smart TV, and whatever new gadgets they promote to make my life “easier?” I feel lost and have to call a young kid to show me what to do. In a hotel, I want to make myself a cup of tea in my room. There is some equipment for it with many different buttons. Which button do I push? I stand there like an idiot, trying the various buttons, making a mess. Finally, I have to call some twenty-two-year-old waiter who knows which buttons to push so I can make hot water for a cup of tea.
I remember being in the shower of a hotel with no idea how to operate the sophisticated, high-tech, innovative piece of equipment. I cannot get the right water temperature. It is either freezing cold or boiling hot shooting from I don't know which angle.
Everything is becoming increasingly complicated. I break into a cold sweat when I see an alert on my computer saying, ‘update’ or ‘upgrade.’ Every time it updates, I am lost and must start relearning the whole application all over again, creating more stress in my life.
You might say, “Ichak, you are just old. That is all. Instead of accepting your age limitations, you are accusing technology.” Maybe, but as technology advances at high speed, causing on going changes and “improvements,” the speed at which these innovations are made is far greater than the people’s capacity to learn and adapt to them. So we are left, at least I am, behind, incapable of catching up. The young people look like they are capable of catching up, but I believe they will soon be unable to adapt as it is moving too fast for even them. We are becoming “older” younger. An IT specialist may be considered old and unemployable by the age of thirty-five.
We are becoming slaves to technology rather than masters of technology. We feel increasingly disempowered to handle the complexity of the world in which we live.
I was recently looking at the beautiful latest new Audi. The company is promoting its sophistication, how many electronics and devices it has, but the more they tell me how technologically advanced it is, the less interested I am in buying it.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes