Has Technology Really Made Our Lives Better?By Kaylene Peoples | October 8th, 2013 | Category: Articles, Letter from the Editor | 1 Comment »
I admit I love my iPhone, my iPad, my computer, etc. I guess you could say I am a gadget girl. I covet the latest anything when it comes to electronics, as long as it looks good, too. I must accessorize my circuit-boarded components with the coolest covers, plugs, or whatever makes them match. After all, this fashionista must be coordinated in all ways. I feel naked without a matching accessory like a scarf or a belt. Why shouldn’t my Samsung Galaxy have a case that accents my purse? The last purse I bought was very significant. No longer am I buying for fashion only. I need pockets and plenty of them. I have to be able to carry my two cell phones, my battery charger (I hate that it only came in black, so I definitely need to hide it); and the purse’s pouch must be big enough not only to carry my iPad, but my hairbrush, my wallet, some makeup, and a few other necessities we women hide in our purses. After I have packed my toys, I’m finally ready to leave the house. What a disaster if I just happened to miss a call or a text, or not be able to play Scrabble online while standing in line at the bank, the grocery store, or the post office.
I just recently saw the funniest comedy routine by Louis CK about gadgets and flying. This bit is not only hilarious, but it’s true. He talks about how we as a generation have become entitled to have everything at our fingertips. We don’t want to wait for our texts to be sent. If we are on the airplane and the Internet goes down, we pout like toddlers. We even complain about our carriers when a call is dropped or something takes longer than we think it should. I am guilty as charged. My latest issue with my cell phone is I can’t back up my text messages to a PDF quickly, or at all. I don’t want to back up my phone to iTunes and extract the file to convert it to a spreadsheet just so I can save it as a PDF. Why do I have to go through all that when the developers should have predicted my every need and known that eventually I would need this little non-existing App!
Remember the days when things took longer? You had to wait a week for the mailman to deliver your New Yorker, Vogue, or whatever the latest bestseller was at the time; in my case whatever novel Harlequin Romance or Robert Ludlum just released. The anticipation made opening that long awaited package all the more enjoyable. Now if I want a book or a magazine, I just purchase it on Amazon and download it to my electronic device. If I need to get to my significant other, he’d better respond immediately to my text, my phone call, my email . . . or all three! And yes, I will hold him accountable if he’s the least bit late in his reply. On the flip side, I feel inclined to respond to text messages as soon as I receive them. I could be laid up with a cold, in a business meeting, at the drive though, in the dentist’s chair, in labor, working out, even driving (God forbid). The alarms go off if I don’t respond immediately to whoever has just beckoned me. I noticed I was developing anxiety over the whole electronic phenomenon.
What would happen if we shut off our phones just for one day, turned off our computers, and put away our tablets? Maybe we could read a book the way people did in the 20th century. You know, turn the pages yourself? Actually touch the book. What would happen if we didn’t send a tweet of that sacred event (wedding, baptism, funeral, christening), or stopped Instagramming ourselves at the club with our girlfriends, or that cute photo of our pet? What if we stopped alerting our “fans” on Facebook of our daily status, or stopped sharing the latest deep thought of the day by some famous dead person? Would it kill us to take a walk in the park, write a love letter, smell the roses, or exchange philosophical ideas in the living room with a living, breathing human right there with us? I don’t know about you, but I feel that as technology grows, we become less connected with people around us and spend too much of our time engaging with strangers via our gadgets. I know it can be fun, but this whole way of being is also becoming burdensome. Where do we find our balance between the cyber world and the real world?
I am thankful for the immediacy of the news, the discovery of new inventions, and the latest cures to once upon a time life-threatening illnesses. But to be constantly bombarded with tragic news or the latest drug can really wear us down. It might be nice to turn it all off and just meditate. Silence can be golden. My grandparents had the right idea: take it slow and enjoy the moment. Oh dear, gotta go! My phone is vibrating, and it might be a friend I’ve never met responding to my post! Wink, wink . . .