7 technologies that ruin everything

We asked ExpressVPN blog writers to name a technology that has ruined their pastimes.
Digital freedomTips & tricks
3 mins
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The internet allows us to do extraordinary things, like translate a physical menu just by scanning it with our phones or identify planes flying overhead and ships on the horizon. 

But amid all the conveniences we’ve gained from modern technology, sometimes we just want things to go back to how they used to be. Here ExpressVPN blog writers (and a few other team members) share the tech that’s taken away from their pastimes and experiences IRL. 

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Technology that ruined real life

1. E-readers

What they do: Store thousands of books on a lightweight device—no trees required. Read on the go, even in the dark.

Examples: Kindle, Nook, Kobo

Why they ruin everything: 

“The tactile satisfaction of flipping through a book is something a Kindle just can’t recreate. There’s a rhythm to it, and when a good book draws you in, there’s no stopping it—even when it’s 2am and you tell yourself: just one last page. With e-books, it’s hard to get a sense of where you’re at with the story. Some of my favorite books are of great sentimental value, too. Their physical form serves as a reminder of a time or a place.” — Tricia 

“How are we supposed to know what book that cute stranger is reading on the train??” — Jamie

2. Streaming services

What they do: Let you watch thousands of movies and television shows, old and new, on your personal devices for a low monthly cost or even for free

Examples: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+

Why they ruin everything: 

“My parents used to take me to the movies as a treat and made an entire affair out of getting popcorn and nachos. Streaming services don’t offer that experience and the excitement of it. And sometimes you aren’t even saving money, like when Disney+ charges a fee for a newer release that is about four times the cost of a movie ticket!” — Atika 

3. Fitness watches

What they do: Measure and record aspects of your physical state, such as heart rate, calories burned, and steps taken.

Examples: Apple Watch, FitBit

Why they ruin everything: 

“Once you start tracking your workouts with fitness apps, if you go out for a run or walk without your device (because it’s charging or whatever), you feel like the exercise didn’t actually count.” — Mac

(Read more: 5 tips to keep your fitness apps secure)

4. Food delivery apps

What they do: Bring restaurant dishes to your home, quickly and for a reasonable delivery fee.

Examples: Grubhub, Doordash, UberEats

Why they ruin everything: 

“What you get is food at restaurant prices without the restaurant atmosphere and the anticipation of a fun night out. Just a grim paper bag and so much plastic packaging. The most depressing part is people are so used to deliveries now they’re too lazy to leave home.” — Penny

5. Travel sites

What they do: Show you the highlights of travel destinations and let you comparison shop for hotels.

Examples: TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, Google Maps

Why they ruin everything: 

“What’s been ruined is vacation wandering. It’s kind of sad that it’s so easy to navigate strange new cities with your phone. And all your hotels and other way stations are searchable and bookable in advance, such that you feel almost negligent if you don’t plan everything ahead. All the spontaneity of travel is gone. While everything is safer and more convenient, so much of the mystery and joy of it is lost.” — Zack

6. Smart birdfeeder

What it does: Notifies you when birds visit the birdfeeder and takes their pictures.

Example: Bird Buddy

Why it ruins everything: 

“So much of the joy of birdwatching being still in nature. It’s a quiet meditative joy, which balances with the excitement of hearing and spotting a new bird in person, in its habitat. This tech feels super intrusive. It’s surveillance and also adding technology to “catch ’em all” for an activity (birdwatching) that is delightfully tech free.” — Lauren 

7. Dating apps

What they do: Connect you to people without having to set foot inside a bar or make eye contact.

Example: Tinder, Bumble

Why they ruin everything: 

“You become a jaded statistic.” — Marcus

“You end up swiping through everyone to find said cute stranger on the train—to no avail.” — Jamie

(Read more: 3 privacy tips for using online dating apps)

What has technology ruined? Rant with us in the comments!

Vanessa is an editor of the blog.