Chapter four, “Automated Diaries” in Rettberg’s Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, explores and discusses:
- how our technological devices keep track of nearly all of our information and store them,
- how do the apps manage to raise our attention by the specific way they represent our “stored data” to us and,
- How do these devices and apps affect and filter our lives, for a brief summary.
While this chapter of Rettberg’s is more in the direction of an informative speech/essay, she describes and discusses the topic very interesting and explanatory. The chapter’s focal point is to give some examples and encourage the reader to decide which aspects of technology’s habit of recording everything about us is beneficial or unnecessary.
I believe that we all gained a new habit in which we want to record and capture our lives’ moments but neglect to live those moments to the fullest. Since we all can access technological devices, neither be it a phone or an iPad, etc., we always have whatever we think we need in the palm of our hands. The idea that I liked very much in this chapter was how Rettberg secretly underlining to the reader that once taking photos or recording special moments was a luxurious and specialized thing; now it had become an ordinary activity for us. So, simply we started to miss out on the meaning of those special times we had since we are making them feel and look like ordinary events in our monotone lives now. Also, I really liked how Rettberg names these newly adopted lifestyles of ours to keep diaries and journals. As Rettberg mentions, “We are currently seeing more and more examples of continuous, automated, real-time diaries, where our everyday use of technology is converted into a journal-like format” (Rettberg 46). Just as Rettberg does, I also have reservations on the issue that our everyday use of technology somehow manages to observe us and convert all the information in a journal-like format. On one side, up to some points, this may be a good thing to evaluate ourselves through some aspects, but on the other side, I believe that it undoubtedly makes us a little robot-like, dehumanized beings.
When keeping a journal, I remember that hiding the journal physically and writing in it was significant. It was sometimes even raising our own awareness of some problems we face by giving us the option to reread our innermost emotions, joys, and disappointments. Yet, I think many of us who had a routine of writing to a journal, have lost that routine by preferring to use applications that promise to keep track of our lives. When Rettberg suggests that “the camera can automatically collect visual information but lacks the knowledge of the human’s emotions and memories that make those images meaningful or not” (Rettberg 55), I believe that this sentence applies to all technological devices and applications came along with them. Also, I think that this particular sentence serves as the thesis of the chapter since when I read it as a whole, all I can think of is how technology corrupts our beings in different manners.
The most intriguing and exciting part of this chapter was the one with the headline “Gamified Lives” for me. As Rettberg, both secretly and directly underlines that we keep playing games in which we have no chance to win but have goals and challenges until the very end, depicts life perfectly. The problematic thing is that by being obedient to what technology offers to us, we become individuals who resist our self-improvement and rationalism. Although Rettberg mentions a few useful applications in terms of our self-growth exists, I think that we continuously get lost in a billion applications and often stick with the ones that are not so helpful. Overall, I liked the chapter and appreciated Rettberg’s information on various applications after trying each of them herself. But, at some point, I also got bored because there were a few connections made with real life, and it was like reading a review of apps. Yet, I also understand and believe that what Rettberg tried to do was to represent all the information she gathered and leave the choice of agreeing or disagreeing to the reader: Does technology make us cyborg selves who collaborate with the machines and filter our lives? Or do we really research the apps in depth and pick the useful ones for ourselves? My answer is precise; I totally believe that we are losing the most human side of our beings and have become more obsessed with technology offerings that come up with so-called “easy solutions” for our everyday lives.