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Slow food. Slow fashion. Slow tech?

slow-tech-antoine-geiger
Source: Antoine Geiger

What is slow tech and why does it matter

Unless you’re already living the slow life, you must have heard about, or maybe even experienced, slow food or slow fashion. In unison against the glorification of busy, we have been witnessing a social backlash. Now, the time has come for us to reexamine our relationship with technology. So, what exactly is slow tech? And why does it matter?

As technology pervades into every aspect of our lives, we need to be aware of how it changes our capabilities and behaviour, both for good and for bad. Do you sleep next to your mobile phone? Do you check your flashing notifications right after hitting the snooze every morning? Have you ever felt annoyed when talking to someone who is “listening” to you but busy scrolling through their Instagram feed? If you answered yes to all of those questions, congratulations you are a citizen of today’s modern world.

We are living in an increasingly distracted culture. How many times have you drifted off into a cyber wormhole that was completely unrelated to the initial task you were supposed to be doing? The average female teenager texts 4000 times a day. That means every 7 minutes her day is being interrupted. We are in a crisis, a crisis of attention. Attention, just like willpower, is a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes and vice versa. We are radically over training a part of our brain that thinks fast and makes automatic decision without contemplative thought - the “System 1” of our brain as Daniel Kahneman explains in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow.’ What this means is we are neglecting the Thinking Slow part of our brains, the part that is deliberate and rational, the skeptic within us: what Kahneman calls “System 2.”

slow-tech

Source: David Plunkert

Et alors ? Imagine how the world will look in 20 years if we continue this way. We will end up a bunch of distracted zombies, never paying attention to the present moment, where our virtual lives will end up being more important than our reality. What consequences will this have for the environment, for society and for our humanity?

Initially technology was designed for the workplace, it was designed to make us faster and more efficient. Now, take this design and put it into a lifestyle device that we carry around in our pockets all day… you see where we’re going here. Slow technology is a design agenda for technology aimed at reflection and moments of mental rest rather than efficiency in performance. We can create an alternative design center that is about making authentic connections with each other.

Until then we are stuck with technology that requires us to become generic, to interact with people using just one word and to reduce our thoughts to 140 characters. We’re constantly pressured to become like everyone else. It’s not about saying no to technology altogether, it’s about being mindful of how we use it.

This post was inspired by Joe Kraus’ TED talk on Slow Tech

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