I’m old enough to have learned to type on an Apple IIe and to have saved my files on eight-inch floppy disks. But I’m young enough to still be at least as, if not more, technologically adept than my children. I can pretty easily learn and find new programs and best practices on the computer, phone, Web, social media, etc.
But I am starting to loathe technology. We are too dependent on something unreliable and impersonal.
1. It takes power to run most types of technology. We live in Maryland, where the weather is often unpredictable and swings to extremes more often than anywhere else. Derechos and hurricanes mean fallen trees and power lines, which translate to blackouts. Technology = life. No electricity = no technology. Erratic weather = no life. Snowstorms used to mean a day off from work and a cup of hot chocolate, curled under a blanket with a thick novel.
2. It can get infected. We recently had a computer virus that attacked our company’s whole server — three separate times over the course of one week. In the past, when you — or anything you owned — got sick, you rested and went to the doctor (or repair man) to heal. Today, a computer virus is a colossal disaster. Every minute disconnected from the computer feels like a lifetime. It means money and morale lost and makes pica poles and Blue Streak pens look good. We expect the IT team to fix problems instantly. If they can’t — we are ready to fire them as quickly as an entertainer changes costumes during a performance.
3. Everyone has shiny-object syndrome. If you don’t have the latest and greatest (and expensive) gadget or gizmo, you’re nobody and probably pretty unworldly. It’s impossible that you could prefer to hold a magazine than scroll through its contents on your Nook.
4. The speed — and when lack thereof — makes people cranky. One cranky person becomes multiple cranky persons, which makes an entire household, office — world! — very cranky.
5. It’s distracting. We can’t work without it. … We can’t work with it. Email alerts pop up every half-second. The phone beeps to let you know you’ve received a text. You have to post on Facebook, and opening facebook.com is 10 wasted minutes while you check what your friends, and your friends’ friends, ate for dinner. Our attention spans have become as short as those of newborns.
6. Ironically, technology, with all its advances in communication, keeps us further apart and makes communication harder. The choices are overwhelming; do you text, email, Skype, chat? God forbid you should pick up the phone?! The people you communicate with are going to have the choice to reply. They may not even open your email or click on the red notification button. In a world where we are all connected 24/7, it makes connecting impossible at times!
The worst of it is that we are so busy “talking” to each other electronically that we forget how to talk to each other.
It’s true, I’m not ready to hand in my iPhone or kill plans for the Feb. 1 launch of our digital magazine and, just a few weeks later, our JT app (stay tuned!). Maybe hate is a strong word. I’m just reminding myself that with all its advantages, technology has also exercised a benevolent tyranny over us. And it’s not so bad if every once in a while we force ourselves — or are forced — to break free.