The above photo sort of depicts my cynical-side of my point of view on technology. I see lots of good things about all the technology around us but there’s so many pitfalls right now. People are becoming meaner because they don’t have to say the mean things they want to say to someone’s face… they can hide behind a computer. There’s a surge in bullying because of this… well in part due to this fact.
I see more and more people “hooked” to their phones all the time. They can’t seem to put the phone down long enough to have a real conversation with anyone. There’s no manners whatsoever when it comes to these technologies. As connected as they are, they’re losing their connection to people. I had a friend not all that long enough claim to be “bored” and yet couldn’t be bothered to call me back – probably because she was playing around on her phone to entertain herself. Oh the irony.
I worry about the fact that kids are inside what seems like all the time. They don’t seem to have a concept for outdoor activities (at least not like when I was growing up – bike riding, just general playing outside). There are, of course, some families who will spend time outside and that’s good, but still, it seems like a problem. I remember when I was working at at a call center for Dish Network, I had many people tell me they were canceling Dish because of missed service and they didn’t know what to do with their children in the mornings. Really?!?! They could try reading books or coloring books or some other activity that would allow you to get ready and yet enrich their minds. Heaven forbid. While you’re at it, maybe you should learn how to interact with your kids some too. It may help in the future. Television was never meant to be a babysitter. Sorry. Just how I feel about it. Then there’s all the online predators, and the list goes on with all the issues, and yet, there is a bright side also.
For all my gripes about technology, and trust me there’s plenty, I do recognize all the pluses also. That’s what I really want to talk about. The up-side to all this technology that we’re experiencing and so quickly. I touched on this the other day when I wrote about being thankful to WordPress. Technology does connect a lot of people.
The Internet has come a long way. I remember the days of when people had to put the phone in a cradle to get connected (remember “Weird Science” anyone?). Then before long it was using the phone line without a cradle (Hello AOL, email and “You’ve Got Mail” – that cute little movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.) I remember AOL days and going to a friend’s house to get “online.” Life was very different then. And now, it’s high speed and there’s hardly anything you can’t do online now. It’s about paying bills, depositing checks via phones, conversations via Skype, (or similar service and teleconferencing), blogging, social media, and the list goes on for what feels like forever. It may just get to a point where you can create a woman (or better yet a really cute guy) from the Internet.
The real upside I see to all this technology and social media, for instance, is the fact I’ve been able to reconnect with some folks I would have been able to otherwise. I found friends via Facebook that I had lost touch with. That’s a real plus! Being able to text is a nice thing when you don’t have time for a full conversation but you need to just quickly touch base (i.e. “hey I’m running late, be there asap” or “busy, will call back,” etc.).
For me blogging has turned out to be a truly wonderful thing! I’ve met people I never would have met otherwise. I’ve had some truly interesting conversations and I have things in common with others I never would have known about otherwise. When I started to feel alone about how I felt about certain aspects of life, I found writers via WordPress that expressed similar opinions. That was so refreshing to me. As isolated as I can be because of work and where I live, I’m suddenly less isolated. It’s also meant providing a way for me to volunteer – something that’s so important to me. I live in the middle of nowhere so volunteering isn’t so easy but the Internet opened up possibilities for me.
Other pluses aren’t about me at all. Amber Alerts via Facebook and other social media has helped so much in recovering children. It’s a big deal to be able to do that. It’s a wonderful way of advertising for businesses, particularly those who have mom and pop shops that can’t afford to do expensive advertising. Even though cyber bullying is horrific, the fact that evidence exists out here for people to pursue civil or criminal activity, is a plus. People can’t get away with as much now. There’s ways to track down other criminals via technology that wasn’t there before. Cell phones and all their assorted “apps” help with numerous daily chores, but also are useful in emergency such as a flat tire on a major highway. There’s GPS now for those that are directionally challenged (even for those not challenged but don’t have a “navigator” to read a map- yes I still prefer a paper map – sue me). The list goes on for miles.
Communication has opened up and people have a lot more access to information now. At one point in the movie “With Honors” with Brenden Fraser and Joe Pesci. Fraser’s character is writing his thesis and his paper, as read by Moira Kelly, talks about how technology will eventually lead the U.S. to a true democracy. One can only hope. There are certainly some indications of that as people gain access to information. Now to just figure out how to allow the NSA to help keep us safe without infringing our rights. It’s a balancing act.
I recommend watching the final moments – about at 9:30ish where Kelly is reading a part of Fraser’s thesis. It’s better explained there.
Finally, just a fun note: today is National Nacho Day, or at least so I’m told. From what I understand, James Naismith was also born on this day in 1861. He invented basketball. So I hear.