I’m concerned. I’m concerned about where this technological life is heading and how it will change us humans forever. I’m concerned that I sound 83, but that is a lesser concern than the previous. I have diagnosed myself with “wireless hypocrisy”. It’s a difficult ailment in which an inner conflict arises between what I know is not good versus what I like to do, in this case my technological outlets. (Pun intended)
Gone are the days when “internal drive” spoke about one’s passion or motivation for something, when talking about ones’ “memory” was about an experience rather than the space you have to save something, typically measured by some sort of byte. How do I even know this little bit? Because I’m married to Data (Goonies reference here). He can smell it in the air and know by the shift of the wind when a new gadget is about to emerge and he will swoon and court and wait and stalk it, until at last he conquers and has made it his own. It’s quite romantic in that sense I suppose, if you’re made of microchips and all. In his excitement, he often suggests, no no, encourages, no wait, insists that I upgrade alongside him. And I, being my creature of habit and comfort self, am usually, no no, always, resistant. Once I surrender and experience the gadget, of course I am consumed and trapped and hooked, but it’s that initial change I despise. Just when I finally intimately know the ‘ins and outs’ of my gadget’s functioning capabilities, it’s time to say: “Goodbye, I’ve found something faster and more compact than you, I’m sorry but you’re obsolete.” And a new ‘get-to-know-you’ phase ensues as I navigate a new system hanging up calls and deleting emails because let’s face it, sometimes my gadgets are just too fancy for me.
Our girls. There is something very seemingly wrong and yet totally amazing, that our toddlers have mastered the use of our gadgets. With the swoop of a teeny finger they scroll and control the touch screen of our phones and iPad. Forget the mouse, that’s even old news to them. And don’t try giving them a decoy, they know which ones are real and they expect a working phone with a proper network. I remember mastering my fisher price rotary, so what if it took 4 minutes to dial, we seemed to have more time in those days (I recognize that I now sound about 90).
We live in a civilization which is becoming less civilized. A civilization in which we rarely sit face to face and abbreviate our words until they are unrecognizable. We laugh when our phones “assume” we’re saying something we’re not, despite the messages we send. I can see the future of therapy now, no longer will it be our significant others we complain about putting words in our mouths but rather our phones misunderstanding us. We text each other from adjacent rooms and sometimes speak through facebooking to the person sitting next to us on the couch, only to include all of our avid readers in our most private conversations. Spouses argue or say I love you, dinner orders and social plans, for all of us to share in. We sext (well not me, I don’t do that) and drext which I thought was the correct version of driving while texting, but I soon learned that drexting is actually drunk texting (potentially equally dangerous to driving while texting which is DWT). I am concerned. I worry that my girls will read books on their ipad or get info on their google reader and not be interested in their books, you know, those square things made out of that rare substance called paper. I know that every generation watches technology boom and the “impossible” is always achieved and everyone is wowed but it feels like for us, in present time, it’s a daily occurrence. Every single day there is a newer more intense version of something that actually creates more distance between us. I’m not dismissing the wonderful changes that are direct products of technological evolution, but we would be unwise to ignore the consequences.
That mermaid chick Ariel said it right: “I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whose its and what’s its galore, you want thingamabobs, I’ve got twenty, but who cares, no big deal, I want more!” Yea, we sure do want more, waiting on lines endlessly, paying obscene money to acquire sold-out units, we are gadget gaga! And I struggle, because I too have a smartphone. We have an ipad an ipod and several other ithings. I feel like if everyone got rid of their phones I would be fine with giving mine up too…but since no one else is going to, I don’t want to be that weirdo without a phone that no one can call or text or email. I am currently my own operating system, and relinquishing my mobile accessibility may require a twelve step program.
The good news. All of these methods of communication are increasing are connections! The bad news. None of these connections, other than those of necessity such as long-distance or circumstance, are as authentic or intimate or meaningful as the physical presence of another human to converse with. Does this mean I need my Geico rep in my living room? No, all in context folks. I will say this though, if and when my daughter feels that texting me something like OMG MOM LOL TTYL replaces a conversation, I will immediately cancel whatever shared minutes plan I presume we’ll have someday in the future. In preparation for this day, I am practicing being uncool as I suspect this will be my inevitable fate.
Stay connected. Be selective in your network. Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?