Keeping It Real

Taking Control of Your Tech Before the Metaverse Hits

Not so long ago, the Internet was something we dialed onto. The 56k modem would commandeer the phone line (sorry, mom!) and launch us into cyberspace. Like a car accelerating on the on-ramp to a freeway, we’d join the fray and begin our session on the world wide web. Today, we don’t really get off that freeway. Rest stops along the way give us a break for meals and sleep, but we are never far away from an always-on data connection to the Internet of Things.

Soon, that freeway is about to get a whole lot more immersive and addicting. They’re calling it the metaverse. Like a freeway through a tunnel, this reimagined Internet will be all around us in every direction. It will engage most (if not all) of our senses as it tricks our brain into experiencing a vast array of virtual activities. It will feel for all the world like the real thing, except it won’t be. And that’ll be the problem. It won’t just be that every minute you spend wearing a VR headset will be a minute of real-world opportunity wasted. It’ll be that the more you interact with people virtually in the metaverse, the less you’ll feel a need for people in real life. And that could spell doom for your overall health and wellbeing.

But as I pointed out in my recent technology column over at Newsmax, there’s still time to establish yourself as boss over your technology before the metaverse hits you full-on:

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? Will it be Big Tech? Your gadgets? A hidden algorithm? Or you?

So, how do you show all your gadgets who’s in charge? Here are three steps, a method I call authentic technology.

RENEW

First, you need to renew your understanding of what technology is. It’s actually all about you, but not the way you might expect. The root of the word technology is teks, which literally means to weave or fabricate. It’s the art, skill, and craft we humans use to make tools useful for living. And the best part? It’s not just the maker of a piece of technology that can demonstrate art and skill – it’s the one who uses or harnesses it too. That’s you and me! Once you understand that technology is all about your own art and skill and what you do with the tools you have, you’ll be ready to renew your relationship with tech.

REESTABLISH

Second, you need to reestablish boundaries over your present and future tech. Once you understand that technology is about your own art and skill, you can get rid of any electronic tech in your life that isn’t helping you achieve something useful. Survey all the gadgets, screens, and subscriptions you’ve amassed and ask some questions. Is this doing my thinking for me? Is this reducing my interaction with other human beings? Is this helping me to achieve something positive? Is this good for my mental, physical, and spiritual health? Can I live without this? Get rid of any screen, gadget, or piece of tech that doesn’t measure up. Be ruthless – you only live once. When you’ve evaluated your present tech, you’ll be ready to apply the same standard to any future tech that catches your eye.

RELEASE

Once you’ve renewed your understanding of technology and reestablished control over your tech tools, you’ll be ready to better release your potential to the world. There’s no one else on the planet like you. Combine your endowed intelligence, unique life path, and wise choice of tech tools to offer your art, skill, talent, and ideas to others.

Let’s face it – we’re already living a lot of our time in virtual spaces. We get lost in our phones, tablets, and TVs for hours on end. We interact and “hang out” with people online. We invest in videogames and countless apps. We talk to digital assistants and make contactless transactions. We’re getting more and more comfortable moving through life in a self-centered digital bubble. The metaverse will draw us even further into this virtual realm, blurring the lines between real and imagined, lived and experienced, authentic and imitated. If we start today to live authentically with our technology, we’ll be less likely to succumb to the metaverse when it arrives.

Andrew McDiarmid is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. His writing has appeared in the New York Post, Houston Chronicle, Relevant Magazine, Technoskeptic Magazine, and elsewhere. Learn more about his work at www.andrewmcdiarmid.org.

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