Technology solves a lot of problems for us. We have easy access to many things we once would have had to spend a lot of time and effort to research, plan, and network. We get reminders, warnings, and notifications. If we have a problem, there’s likely an app for it. Actually, there’s probably many apps for any one particular issue. We have to identify the problem we have and somewhat know the solution in order to choose the right app among many.
Just because technology helps us solve a “problem,” doesn’t mean it was a problem in the first place.
Need to manage tasks? Ask for directions? Find the answer to a question? Be able to convert a measurement? Connect with an old friend? Technology can help with all those problems, but there are other solutions, too. And to be honest, are those things actual problems? They are definitely something to figure out, but problems? If you were to list all the problems in your life, or around the world, how many of them could you solve with apps on your phone?
Perhaps we’ve broadened our definition of “problem” so widely that we’ve watered it down. Our first world problems, like being delayed in the Starbucks line or not being able to find our favorite shampoo, have warped our perspective. Maybe not having easy, free access to wifi isn’t actually a problem. Maybe being available at all times isn’t actually a problem. Maybe being able to check in with our friends (without them knowing about it) on social media isn’t as essential as we think.
When you think about the apps that make your life easier, consider how dependent you are on them. What problems are you certain they solve. Would you be okay if you didn’t have an app for the particular problem? Could you solve it another way? Or live with it as a minimal issue?
The people who make apps want you to believe the apps solve problems for you. In order to sell the apps (or the advertising or other support for the apps), people have to create the demand. It’s a Marketing 101 concept. What do you do if there’s not a problem to solve? Create the solution to the problem you can get others to imagine. Present the problem, then offer the solution.
Be more discerning than that. Don’t buy into the idea that technology solves a problem, or that you actually have a problem to solve. Think about it.
That doesn’t mean you set all technology aside either. But know the difference between a real problem and a “first world problem.”
Keep your perspective in good shape, so you’re not overwhelmed by the distortions of “problems” in your life.