The human impact of tech change
As I explored the streets of Paris today, i had my usual 'curious' eyes on as I observed the behaviour of people around me. I haven't had much time to understand the French, and today didn't provide me any meaningful insights. Being a Sunday, most of central Paris was closed, which didn't phase me too much, just gave me more reason to explore the city. Paris is a stunning city, even in the depth of a 5 degree day, which I totally hadn't prepared for. Amongst it's architecture, food and cultural beauty, Paris has a charm about it, one that connects us to the past. Walking over the Place de la Concorde in Paris' east, I discover the Obelisk of Luxor. A 3300 year old gift from Egypt back in 1829 in recognition of a Frenchman's efforts to understand hieroglyphs. During my day in Paris, I found myself at a quiet little cafe in the Pyramids quarter. I had just devoured a Parisian favourite, the Nutella crepe, and was seeking a caffeine fix. Opting not to take up a entire table, I sat at the bar and ordered my usual, a double espresso. Being the tech freak that I am, I had my phone out on the bar to explore the district and check-in on foursquare. But only moments into my time of tech peace, a moment of reflection came upon me.
Since new tech is being released every day it, we (the tech obsessed) are spending more and more time at our gadgets EVERY day. Although I think few people could argue that the advancements in technology aren’t a good thing, there are case of serious downsides. In rare stories that many of us caught up in the techno hype rarely explore or share.
While enjoying my double espresso, an elderly lady sat down beside me at the bar. She appeared to be a semi-regular, but I couldn't be sure given I understood zero French. After a few moment of being quiet strangers, we got talking. Language was still a barrier, but that didn't hold back both our curious minds. I believe I heard her name as Agnus, but I could be way off. Agnus was in her late 70's and had lived in the local area for close to 50 years. She has witnessed first hand the area become a central part of the tourism machine in Paris.
During our conversation I made a comment that she was 'up with the gadgets' given she was carrying an iPhone 4. Which spiked an interesting response. While she did enjoy many of the features of her fancy Apple tech, she was mainly negative towards purely because it was forced upon her. See, her family was growing up, traveling, and spending the majority of their lives in tech world. Her daughter has asked her to use an app to help monitor her medicine, and her grandchildren were insistent on her using WhatsApp. Even some of her senior citizen services were pushing their techno agenda. I could se Agnus was getting worked up about the topic.
I decided to throw in a curve ball, by asking her how she fells about the idea that we will all soon be paying for things using our phones. Being no stranger to the App store, she immediately caught on. Posing a question, why do we all have to evolve? Commenting that she loves playing with these new gadgets since her husband passed ten years ago. They give her new freedoms, new possibilities, but she doesn't like that people keep forcing tech upon her.
Her story evolved, as she made reference to 'that stupid European Union forced new money on us, and all of a sudden I had no idea how much everything cost, is this going to happen all over again with paying by phone?'. Referring to the swap out of the French Fanc for the single Euro currency in 2002.
Agnus is a sharp woman, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed talking to. She reminded me that while I push the industry forward to adopt new tech, there are still strong segments of society that like things the way they are. Evolution means change, and change isn't always easy for people, even if it makes their lives better. It reminds me of the quote from the Matrix movie 'Ignorance is bliss' while knowing, understanding and adopting the truth might better our lives and those around us. Adopting the change may be more stress than its worth.
It's nice to be reminded of the human impact that tech evolution brings. It reminds us to consider those that change may not be so easy for.
And before you ask, neither of the images are of Agnus. It didn't feel right to ask her.