While many are happy to allow Facebook to do their socializing, Google Maps to do their navigating, and Microsoft Office to streamline their workloads to a fault, others are wondering if we are inadvertently sapping the soul out of human life. In response, digital advocates would argue it’s bringing us closer together, solving age-old and new problems alike at an individual and societal level, and empowering millions to take control of their ‘work-life balances’.
Even as we approach the two-decade mark of the near-ubiquity of digital applications and the internet in the Western world, sentiment remains sharply divided on what ultimately helps us and what hinders us. What makes our lives richer and what cheapens our existence. How do we use technology to keep focus on what really matters – our life’s purpose and the things that make us truly happy?
This year sees the release of a film that I believe quietly brings the internal struggles of the digital age to the fore. The Headhunter’s Calling, starring Gerard Butler as career-driven recruiter Dane, shows the psychological effects the lure of digital technology can have on us. In the film, Dane is forced to choose between his career and spending time with his cancer-diagnosed son and family. With the draw of always-on connectivity subtly eroding his work-life balance, questions are raised over the promises and pressures of modern society, the effects of indifferent technology driving it, and the wisdom of not forgetting what’s important in life.
The choice Dane faces might seem like a no-brainer to some, but that would mean failing to appreciate what drives a power-hungry mind and digital technology that easily adds kerosene to the fire. As we move deeper into our digital future, every person with access to devices is facing choices of their own in how they use technology to their benefit rather than to their hindrance.
Catch the world premiere of The Headhunter’s Calling on September 14 as part of Our Digital Future presented by SAP at the Toronto International Film Festival.