The Internet has without a doubt changed the dynamics of our family household. It has become a daily necessity, with 83% of Australia’s population having access to Internet. In my household alone we have 4 smartphones, 6 laptops, 2 iPads and 5 iPods between us, all of which can connect to the Internet. Not to mention the drawer we have full of our ‘outdated’ phones. Our Internet connection is better than it’s ever been, but it still lags and is too slow to play a decent and fast paced X-Box game. I asked Mum exactly what our Internet connection was and she said ‘Dial up? I don’t know, what are the options?’
Before my BCM240 lecture, I had never given The National Broadband Network (NBN) much thought.
My mum, who I interviewed for my previous post on television history, also didn’t have much to say about the topic. Her exact words were “I don’t think it will have much of an impact on our family, but if I was living out in the bush then yes.”
The National Broadband Network (NBN) is “transitioning Australia to a digital future and will bring new opportunities to the whole country.” But what I wonder is how beneficial these opportunities will be. Working from home is an ‘opportunity’ they emphasise. However I don’t see how blurring the lines of work and home can be beneficial for any family. When we were younger mum used to have a saying, “Home time is family time.” I guess this is how she got us to play Friday night board games until I was 15. But even since then, we mainly spend our time at home together. We don’t have televisions in our rooms, so we all watch TV together.
Curious as to whether any of the suburbs close to me are connected to the NBN yet, I used their ‘check your address’ option. I wasn’t really surprised to see that nowhere in the shire has been connected to it yet.
However the situation everywhere else is very different. I honestly wonder how long it will take to be evenly distributed, and if in fact that will happen. When I was completing my HSC, a study tip that they emphasised was not to study in our bedrooms or in a space we relate to relaxing. Working from home is doing exactly that. Yes you’re close to your family, but you find yourself having to separate yourself from home, and visa versa. Commuting to the office brings the associations of work, and the line between home and work are very clear.
I think the NBN comes with a lot of promises for a “better future”, but all I can see is a future in which people will mainly communicate with each other from their homes, and via a screen. People’s mental health will deteriorate, square eyes will actually become an issue, households will be spending a lot more on technology, we’ll forget how to have real conversations, and everyone will be Vitamin D deficient because we will never have to go outside.
So maybe I’m over exaggerating a little, and sure faster Internet would be nice, but I don’t think the NBN is going to benefit us all that much. Its just going to make our obsession of technology even bigger than it is already.
Sherry Turkle in her talk at TED, Connected, but alone?, commented how “we sacrifice conversation for mere connection,” and its exactly true. Our reliance on technology is so extensive that we are left not knowing how to continue our day-to-day tasks if we are left without technology or if one of our platforms stops working.
So although the NBN may make our lives that little bit easier, I think we really need to take a step back and re-evaluate how we can do things without technology. You never want to be caught out during a blackout.
Turkle, S 2012, ‘Alone Together’, TED talk,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtLVCpZIiNs.