- I have no internet service at home.
- I don't own an iPod or iPad
- I have a laptop that I use for writing or fussing with pictures.
- I have the internet at work for 8 hours. (Why would I need more time than that online?)
- I got my first cell phone only last year as a Christmas present from a frustrated family member so I could use it when I'm travelling interstate to let them know if there are unexpected delays.
- My camera takes film that needs to be developed. (The aforementioned cell phone does take pictures but so far I've only managed photos of the inside of my purse and several of the sidewalk.)
This means, of course, that my treatise on all things technical comes from a very, very slanted perspective. But then, the only real opinions we can have, after all, are our own. That alone makes them valid in a strangely comforting sort of way. And while I know it's too late to push the techno baby back up the birth canal—it's out of the bag, as it were, and here we are—I also know that it's important to remember, now and then, the way things were, and that they can still be that way occasionally, if only to clear the data beta mega giga out of our minds and let a little fresh air in there.
Word on the street is that these technological playthings keep people connected to the world. I would argue that those ubiquitous little appendages actually prevent us from being connected—in any real way—to what is happening within the immediate physical space around us. Which does beg the issue: do we want to be connected to the moment, or do we want to be connected to something (or someone) unseen in the distant ether? I think both have their merits, but being ether-less and in the moment more often isn't such a bad thing. (Did I mention I'm a uni-tasker?)
My mental questions to these folks when I see them on the street, clutching their device of choice like a life support system, are these:
- How can you hear the birds sing if you have ear buds plugging your head?
- How can you notice the landscape—or the car that's about to run you down—if your head is buried in the screen of your iPad as you walk along, or your opposable thumbs are twitching in spasms over micro-sized keys?
- How can you hear or notice anything if you are babbling into your iPhone? (By the way, the double edge to that sword is that your babbling generally prevents anyone else within 5 feet of you from noticing or hearing anything but your babbling. But that's another topic...)
I would challenge anyone addicted to their electronic toys to experiment once in awhile:
- if you have access to a computer during the day and are occasionally allowed to use it for personal reasons then don't go online at night or on weekends [Possible time-sensitive exceptions would include booking an airline flight or checking in for said flight]
- if you're in a public place (concert, bus, restaurant, etc.) turn your cell phone off entirely. [Unless you happen to be the close relative of someone who's about to go into hard labor] Check for messages when you go outside if you must. But must you? I mean really, what's so important? Are you the deputy assistant to someone who rules a small country? No? Then unless the kids are home alone or someone you know is ill, or that hard labor thing, wait until you're home.
- the next time you take a walk, leave your gadgets at home and just listen to the sounds of your town, village, city, suburb, and look around at things as you stroll along. It's good for the soul. And can sometimes be positively enlightening, captivating, educational, or just damned hilarious.