What 10 Weeks in South America Can Teach You About Technology

We live in a world where technology has infiltrated our lives in almost every way. Try to recall the last time you left the house without your cell phone, didn’t watch television, or checked your email throughout the day – pretty hard, right? Technology and the connectivity it provides has completely changed the way we live our lives and communicate with each other. But is this for the best?

I recently returned from working abroad in South America for 10 weeks. I traveled to Santiago, then Buenos Aires, Lima, and the jungle of Peru. While there, I observed some interesting things about technology.


Recognizing the Rift Between Digital and Reality

Living in a big city and working for a technology company, I’ve become accustomed to utilizing digital productivity tools in my daily life. While abroad, I was able to use Slack, Email, and Jira to stay connected to my coworkers and stay on top of projects.

However, there were numerous times on my trip that I appreciated being disconnected from the digital world. In the Amazon Rainforest, I stayed in a village that had 3 hours of electricity at night, no Wifi, and no reception for cell phones. I got to disconnect from tech completely. It was incredibly refreshing to see what it was like to be completely isolated and present in the moment. I noticed the sounds of the jungle at night – bats flapping their wings and owls hooting. The only barrier protecting me from the outside was the netting in my room – where I found critters like scorpions, spiders, and bullet ants. During the day, I fished for piranha, played with monkeys, and took guided hikes to see poisonous frogs. Throughout my days of isolation, the one thing that stood out to me most was the rift that technology creates between humans and reality. We are so accustomed to technology that we forget how great the world functions without it.

This is not to say that technology is a negative thing. There are many ways in which technology has improved our lives for the better through the spread of knowledge and self expression. However, it is so intertwined into our everyday lives that it changes the way we interact with each other and our environments.

Although technology can improve many aspects of life, create efficiencies, and augment the realities we see, doing without it can also help put life in perspective. When technology didn’t belong – like in the rainforest – it allowed me to clear my head and truly experience each moment fully; untouched by digital stimuli.

There is a Time and a Place for Technology

While abroad, I noticed that the lack of unlimited SMS service caused people to change the way they communicate altogether. People were more patient, and likely to put their phones away and have a conversation with each other. In the jungle, isolation from technology has allowed Amazonian tribes to remain relatively culturally pure in their ways, despite the occasional group capitalizing on the tourism industry.

Upon returning to the city and mobile reception, I noticed I became much more diligent using things like my cell phone. I was deliberate with my usage, and only utilized technology when I absolutely had to – I had learned to be mindful of reality and the moment I was in.

Through my travels, it became very clear to me that there is an appropriate time and a place for technology. When you realize the power that technology has, and the ability it gives people across cultures, it is important to use it wisely.

One common belief we share as a team at DevelopmentNow is that we don’t believe in technology for technology’s sake. We believe in tackling real problems with innovative solutions. Solutions that power experiences, boost business efficiency, and breathe new life into the connections between brands and consumers.

I returned to the USA with a better understanding of how powerful and influential my daily work can be. I am able to build websites that evoke social change, compelling mobile applications that help sell more product, and emerging tech experiences that help people rethink the insurance industry. The opportunity for technology is huge – it’s just a matter of when it’s right.