The following guest post is by Pat McAndrew, an inspiring actor and tech activist. We invited Pat to share his work.
Building The Low Tech Trek has been an exciting journey. It started as a supplement to my one-man show REEL, which was performed in the 2017 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City. REEL is about technology’s impact on human relationships and how we connect to one another in the digital age.
Once the show closed, it became my mission to keep The Low Tech Trek going. At the time, it was a rare breed, but over the course of the past year, awareness regarding technology’s impact on our cognitive and social development has skyrocketed. Tristan Harris and other collaborators formed the Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing more humane, people-centered technology, which is a great contrast from the attention-sucking industry that is currently king of the castle.
While the development of new design is crucially important today, I wanted The Low Tech Trek to focus more on our behavior and our social responsibility to ourselves. I have witnessed first-hand how our interactions and conversations are different now because of the existence of the smartphone. Many conversations revolve around our phones, while those that don’t rarely reach any meaning or depth.
The Low Tech Trek’s mission is to cultivate genuine, human relationships and facilitate human interaction. In a world that is seemingly becoming more divided, my aim is to bring us closer together. We must accept difference with open arms and continuously learn from others from diverse backgrounds. It’s the only way that we can move forward.
I come from a theatre and acting background. The skillsets one develops in the performing arts are highly beneficial to humanity and it would be unwise to ignore them. Being an actor teaches us how to be better listeners, how to communicate our viewpoints effectively, how to present ourselves, and how to remain present and aware of our surroundings. We must all be actors in our lives. I’m not saying we must be the next star on Broadway, but we must be proactive in our work and our relationships. If we take a passive stance in our lives, which is often the case in our tech-obsessed culture, then our lives will pass us by, leaving us unfulfilled, empty, and unhappy.
I use various theatre and performance theory and expertise to inspire this action in people. The Low Tech Trek is not The NO Tech Trek. I recognize technology’s wealth of opportunities and we should utilize it to the fullest as a tool for positive change. We mustn’t, however, let technology consume us, turning us into mindless zombies without a target to hit or destination to reach. Through performance-based exercises, we can reignite the flame of conversation and connection, we can grow our understanding of what it means to be human, and we can live happier and more fulfilled lives through the relationships which we build.
I have coached individuals in my practices and have just begun speaking at events related to this extremely important topic. As for the future, I am working on developing interactive and engaging workshops and creating courses that will benefit those interested in looking for more depth and meaning in their lives. The Low Tech Trek is certainly a movement towards a better, alternative way of living among the never-ending noise of the digital age. I hope you join us!