This story originally appeared at Newsmax. (February 17, 2022)
Facebook’s recent name change to Meta has ushered in the Age of the Metaverse. Big Tech’s focus is shifting to a new frontier, the untamed wilds of the virtual world. Or is it worlds?
Interestingly, the Germanic word world has a literal meaning of “age of man.” Which sounds quite fitting. But will the metaverse be an age that will see us grow and be nourished, as the root of age suggests? Or will we give in to our modern tendency toward laziness, entitlement and poor judgment?
Before someone dares you to slip on a VR headset to get your first taste of the metaverse, get one thing straight — who is the boss of your tech? By tech, I mean all the gadgets you’ve amassed in the last decade or more: your computer, your smart TV, your phone, your tablet, your fitness doodad, your Bluetooth trackers, your video doorbell.
And by boss, I mean who will call the shots in the relationship, who will push the power button when it’s time, who will decide where your personal data belongs? Big Tech? Your gadgets? A hidden algorithm? Or you?
If you want to live authentically with your technology — that is, be genuine, true to yourself, and original — you’ve got to know what you’re dealing with when it comes to technology. I call this approach authentic technology. Yep, it’s the name of my column here at Newsmax. My mission is to help you think and thrive in the digital age.
Here’s the lowdown.
First, you’ve got to understand that technology is actually all about you. Just not in the selfish, passive way you might think. The root of the word technology is teks, which literally means “to weave” or “to fabricate.”
So the heart of technology is the art and skill used by humans to make objects useful for living. But the best part is that it’s not just the maker of technology that can demonstrate that art, skill, and purpose. It’s the harnesser of the tech too. That’s you and me! How you use the tech tools in your life matters.
Next, you’ve got to take a hard look at your tech gear and set some boundaries. Remember, they’re tools. Meant to be used to help you achieve something useful.
If it makes you forget everyone’s phone number, cut it. If it’s messing with your sleep, sell it. If it’s preventing you from being around other human beings, dump it.
In short, if it’s doing your thinking for you or hindering your overall health and wellbeing, live without it.
An example? Digital assistants. The gizmos attached to those nice voices — Siri, Alexa, Google. Even I’ve succumbed to throwing a quick question Siri’s way on my phone.
But it’s a slippery slope. One day, it’s just the weather or the name of that actor in a movie. Eventually, you’ll farm out more and more to AI until you’re not doing much original thinking at all. Hey, Siri: go take a vacation.
Third, live authentically with your technology by harnessing it wisely. Once you’ve weeded out any gizmos (or subscriptions) that are getting between you and a healthy life, utilize the heck out of the stuff you choose to keep.
To harness literally means to “make ready, equip or arm.” Use your tech tools to make yourself and the people around you better equipped for human living.
Bottom line? You are the secret to technology. It is your art, skill and purpose that will produce goodness in the world. Far from sitting like zombies consuming our screens for large chunks of the day, we can be active agents of good living: thinking, making, sharing and realizing — that is, “making real” — our potential.
Which brings us back to the metaverse. Pretty soon, you’re going to be enticed on all sides by a host of virtual worlds. They’re going to look and feel very real and very cool.
And while there may be some positives to these virtual realms, know that every minute spent with a VR headset on is a minute of real-world opportunity wasted. Be boss of your tech so you can be original. The world doesn’t need your avatar — it needs you.
You may also wish to read: Relationship advice: Think before you app If the people we are having dinner with matter to us, why are we always checking our phones? When we’re in the company of other people, they deserve our full, undivided attention. (Andrew McDiarmid)