December 18, 2013

Technology: Love it or Hate it.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, mainly because I’m the least likely person who has any fancy sort of technology equipment.

It is not to say that I don’t admire and secretly wish I knew how to use all the iPads and iWhatevers; it’s just that technology is taking away the true blue nature of human connection.

I have seen photographs of people sitting in airports, all friends who just emerged from a flight, and the first thing they do is pull out their phones and look down and text for hours until their next flight destination. They don’t speak to each other, they don’t laugh with each other, and they certainly don’t glance at each other.

I would think that after any flight and being cooped up in a claustrophobic metal container, one might desire some sort of human interaction and movement. Not so. This makes me question if we are silently imploding from all the technology that is invading our lives.

We were out to dinner the other night. This young adorable couple came rolling in and sat in the booth across from us. They never exchanged any pleasantries; just pulled their phones out and started texting and punching in whatever short catchy words were called for from the person on the other end of the screen.

And they were on a date!

I couldn’t help but wonder if the cute couple even knew each other or wanted to get to know each other.

Is this what technology has come to?

I applaud the evolution of computers and compatible apps and easier-to-deal-with lives.

I guess what perplexes me is the lost innovation of simple words and physical connection.

I believe I am grieving those days gone by. Either we are at peace with our massive amounts of technology, or we abhor the very intricate nature of gigabytes and Bluetooth overload. I wish I could say I was somewhere in between, but my learning curve on most of the new stuff coming out is rather weak. I don’t go there and I don’t get it.

Here’s the flipside kicker though: I think those who are inventing the latest greatest technological works of art are some incredible geniuses. They are like mini-Einsteins or something. How the brains work of the inventors of Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter and the like are baffling at best. They are fresh and exciting.

I’ve been urged to get on board with any one of these technology sites mentioned, but I hesitate due to my own stubbornness and desire to pick up the phone and call someone dear instead.

I know. I’m old fashioned. I still write letters on occasion.

My only technology skills are with email and a simple phone. I used to have a flip phone and was always a bit embarrassed when I had to make a call in public. The stares I got when I received (or made) a call were way more than I could handle.

At least the numbers were larger, so I didn’t have to pull out my glasses every time.

I’ve since upgraded though. It feels good to have a mini-keyboard that appears when I slide the phone open. It’s not an iPhone or an Android by any stretch of the imagination, but my phone does perplex me with the numerous options for settings and tools and photos.

When I first made the purchase I ended up inadvertently resting my thumb on someone’s contact number, and lo and behold they were on the other end talking without my knowing. It was yet another technology snafu in my long list of complexities in the digital world.

Now with the holiday season upon us and the technology wish lists of many begging for attention, what is the real reason we need so much escapism into the texting and software world?

Have we given up on our means of real communication with physical words and actions?

I guess there would not be a Dell or an Oracle or a Microsoft if we didn’t heed the calling of where this uploading and downloading world is taking us. Is it exciting? You might say that. It now requires classes to understand the complexities of how computers operate and what companies are hiring based on those skills.

What is amazing to me is when something goes awry in the industry and all heads start to spin out. We are so overloaded with information on a constant basis that when things take a nose dive, even the simplest tasks are unable to be handled without the means of technology. There’s a love/hate relationship going on here.

It might be a bit of a stretch, but putting away the technology for a day would foster a different kind of awareness. The senses might become heightened and voices will be heard again. There might even be less migraine headaches due to staring at a screen all day with its alluring blue background to keep you alert. It is tough on the eyes.

As the days are inching towards more darkness, perhaps venturing outside to look at the stars each evening might alter your perspective on what and who is important.

Technology isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it is getting grander and more in demand. But we have the opportunity to sprinkle in moments of authentic conversation with those we love, especially around the holidays. Our entire bodies will feel gratitude for savoring hours away from the computer, the limitless texting, and big stores that sell long lists of gadgets.

It is worth our every penny to enjoy in-person time with people we care about. Only simple love prevails.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Arka De/Pixoto, Kevin Morris/Pixoto

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