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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Did you hear that crash?

No, it wasn't the stock market. It was my computer. Crash.

The past few days without a computer made me realize the extent of my addiction to technology.

Growing up in the 1970s, we had television, our tape recorders, turn tables, our eight-track players and transitor radios. An antenna was perched on the rooftop of our house and periodically our father would have to climb a ladder and adjust it so we would get the perfect picture. We were styling.

We didn't even have a dishwasher in our house growing up -- with so many children, my parents knew they didn't need one. We were the dishwashers.

Now, I feel tinges of withdrawal if I inadvertently leave my cell phone at home when I leave the house. Two days without checking email?! Banish the thought. My PDA, my digital recorder, my digital camera -- all in my purse daily. They're with me, whereever I go.

Cable's not even hi-tech enough for us now. We have digital satellite, attached to at least three televisions in the house. We can rewind regular television, record it, watch it later, order a movie all with the click of our remotes.

We shop online. We connect with our friends and the world. We're technology addicts. We carry our laptops and open them up and work at restaurants and coffee shops. Who needs candles as ambience any more? We have the glow of our computer monitors.

We're addicted, and maybe we've lost a bit our own creativity and imagination in the process of depending on technology.

My son and his wife were recently dreading a cross-country trip with their 3 and 4 year olds. The portable digital television and dvd player they can strap to the back seat was not working. I suggested coloring books, crayons and puzzles. I also mentioned the "good old days" when our parents expected the passing scenery to be more than enough entertainment for us in the back seat of the car.

I also remember eating lunch, away from work and not having my boss or my clients call me three or four times while I'm eating. We're addicts.

I'm going to try to change a bit. No more cell phone on at lunch time. At least one day a week without checking email -- really. I'll let you know how it goes.


Redneck. Diva. said...

pGirl, I admire you for doing that! After watching The Last Mimzy yesterday I realized just how entirely dependent on technology, electronics and gadgets we are. I mean, I knew we were before, but the movie really made it hit home. We could quite possibly be poisoning our future...

...yet...I'm not sure if I could leave home without my cell phone...One afternoon spent stranded on the side of the turnpike with a 1 and a 3 year old was enough to make me buy one the next day and I haven't been without once since. I can go a day without my email, but it's not easy! :-)

Gina said...

You can do it, C.

Somewhere along the line, our culture has convinced itself that we need technology for every minute of every day. There are many, many ways to opt out of that mindset. And little changes can make the biggest differences.

For example, my cellphone isn't always on. I turn it off or leave it off when I know I'm not going to need it. I've found that I don't need it far more often than I do. Moreover, I don't always answer the cell when it goes off (on vibrate only; I can't stand ring tones). I find that 99 percent of the time, it's fine to let voice mail take a message if I'm busy with something else.

I got rid of my PDA a couple of years ago. Paper doesn't need to be synced with anything, and it doesn't require batteries. And I already have e-mail and Web access at home and at work; I don't need to have it everywhere else. For similar reasons, my wireless-equipped MacBook stays home.

And so on. These things may seem really radical to some people, but they make perfect sense to me. We're supposed to use technology; technology isn't supposed to use us! We need to give ourselves a break whenever we can. And we really can, though so many people are convinced otherwise. Life is too short and too precious to be shared with so much plastic and wiring.