Monday, July 11, 2011

Technology Based Society

I feel as though we, as a people, have become too dependent on technology. And I’m including myself in this. Barely a day goes by that I’m not in contact with a computer for at least a few minutes. My cell phone is always with me, in case someone needs to get in contact. And it’s not just a cell phone, it’s a smart phone. And I’m having a hard time convincing myself that I should downgrade to a regular phone, and keep away from Blackberry’s, iPhones, and Androids. I don’t need one, so why get one?

But it’s hard to keep to the necessities when others judge you by the lack of current technology you have on hand. I consider myself a geek, and most of my friends are usually not only the type to buy the latest and greatest technology, but they’re also tech savvy, meaning they understand the full potential for that which they purchase (unlike most of the masses).

I’ve been ridiculed for having a 27inch flat screen TV mounted on my wall. Mind you, considering the size of my apartment, I can actually understand that issue. I’ve recently updated my TV to a 40inch Samsung HDTV. It’s shiny, it’s flashy, and it matches my old school black Pioneer speakers from the 70s, not only in looks, but in size and power. But I remember a time when my 27inch TV would have been fairly big.

However, when people ridicule me for owning a smart phone that’s three years old, I wonder what sort of attitude I’d get from my friends if I downgraded to a small, efficient cell phone, that doesn’t do much other than texting and phoning. What then?

I remember what life used to be like 20 years ago. I was five years old, and we had a huge TV that was more a piece of furniture than anything else. We didn’t need a TV stand for it. The VCR and satellite box (we were lucky enough to have American satellite) sat on top of the TV, and it took up a

pretty big corner of the room. It was big, bulky, and was certainly not HD.

My mother never received phone calls while she was out of the house. While my aunt had a cell phone, she was the only person I knew who actually had one. It was a giant thing with a battery so large that I eventually nicknamed it The Brick, when I inherited it at a time when cell phones were becoming popular. But back in 1991 cell phones weren’t common. Neither were computers, let alone the internet. In 1991, we didn’t even have a 386.

In today’s society, it’s rare to see someone under the age of 50 without a cell phone attached to their hip. We are a culture that is constantly on the go, and constantly letting people know we are on the go. What happened to taking only a boombox and a beach ball to the beach? Today, you can even bring your laptop to the beach, with an internet connection, and send emails and play Farmville from the comfort of your beach towel! Why someone would want to do that, I’m not sure.

But we are always in touch with everyone. It’s getting a bit much. People can reach me 24/7. There is rarely a time when I can’t be reached by email, IM, text, or phone call. I’m sad to admit that a few weeks ago my cell phone crashed, and wouldn’t restart for a good portion of the day. I honestly felt out of touch. I couldn’t update statuses (statusii??), I couldn’t call anyone. I was reliant solely on my feet, and the two people I was with.

In today’s society, how often do you receive something in the mail other than a bill or a flyer? It seems to me that most people send correspondence via the internet, and why not really? An email can be sent across the world in mere seconds while a letter could take weeks. And while I see the potential for this, it still saddens me. In an effort to make getting the mail slightly more exciting, I’ve been exchanging postcards with people. I have over 300 postcards, and every day there’s always that chance that another one might be coming in. I just never know. But how many people actually do send postcards? How many people actually have a real penpal. One who you don’t talk to on a day to day basis, someone you only get a letter from every few weeks or months?

With the internet, it has become moot. Why would I send a letter, when I can talk to my friend in Australia on an IM client, and get a reply back instantly? We’re losing what we used to be. We don’t need to anticipate correspondence. We get it immediately. But where’s the fun in that? Do you get a thrill of happiness when you open your email each day and see a message from a friend you never get to see?

With the advance of technology, we’ve begun to live in the moment. We no longer live for the future, for the moments that will eventually come, because we don’t need to wait anymore. Those moments can come instantaneously. There’s no waiting period, it’s just suddenly there. Life just doesn’t seem that exciting when we take everything for granted.

Our society is also less hands on. I fear that if technology was completely wiped out tomorrow, we’d all be screwed. North America would not be able to handle it. Most people my age probably couldn’t tell you how to start a fire, even with a lighter.

What happened to having life skills? How many people actually cook these days? How many people sew their own clothing?

We’ve become impatient. We’ve become focused on instant-gratification.

Is this the society we dreamt of in the 60s?

1 comment:

  1. Indeed. I often worry that one day I'll lose all ability to interact with real life people, or just start to prefer computers to humans.