The technology that Microsoft has been envisioning for the future is astounding, realistic, and will give us the opportunity to be more productive. That much is true. What’s not true is that they say these technologies will help bring families together. Judging by the recent history of technological advances, that’s the exact opposite effect of the technologies they describe in their video, “Microsoft’s New Envisioning Center: Live, Work, Play.”
Take smartphones, for example. They are technological wonders that allow multiple methods of communication from face-to-face video interaction to simple text, social media, or even phone calls themselves. The ability to communicate with our families has improved, but the frequency hasn’t necessarily gone up at all. For many, it has gone done. Go to a restaurant and look around at families with teen children. Are they actively engaged with each other or are parts of the family fiddling with their smartphone?
The same holds true for the improved entertainment devices and media delivery systems that are now available. It’s not uncommon for a family with multiple televisions, multiple tablets, multiple computers, multiple gaming consoles, and multiple smartphones to be connected to their own devices more than they connect with their family. Some would argue that it has always been this way to some extent, but studies have shown that true “family time” has diminished during the digital age. When was the last time you played a board game as a family?
The sad reality is that technological advancements and improved connectivity lead us to be more connected to our gadgets and gizmos and less connected to our families. Game consoles and televisions may be made for multiple users, but everything else is really a personal digital experience. I remember growing up as a young kid watching M.A.S.H. with my parents. I didn’t get half of the jokes at first but over the years it became a thing for our family. There was no need for parental decrees as some are suggesting today because back then, there was one television and I was stuck watching whatever my parents watched. That was how it was and I wouldn’t have changed it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting going back to the stone age. We’re already down this path and we will continue to accelerate barring a major catastrophe. I’m not even suggesting that these technological advancements are a bad thing. All I am saying is that it’s not realistic to show us these amazing future technologies and classify them as ways for us to spend more time with our families. Grandma won’t be reading stories to the kids at night. There will be an app for that. We won’t be sharing the touch screens at home just because they’re bigger. We’ll be using our own touch screens in our own rooms doing our own things. If you look at the imageĀ above, the one taken from the end of the video where they start preaching about bringing the family together, you’ll notice that one thing is missing from the happy image: technology.
Here’s the video: