Technology has become remarkably portable in the span of a single decade. We can now interact with billions of people seamlessly, but are these portable machines liberating us, or are we tethered to them like dogs to a leash?
We’re part of a shrinking world. Globalization has forged uncountable bridges across the seas and land between places. Right now, somebody in Moscow is pirating a movie filmed and released in Mexico. People across the world engage in video games for fun or competition constantly. People spanning all demographics and income levels trade ideas, creations, and criticisms in a digital bazaar that seems limitless, but holds it’s own physiography.
However, despite this ever mobile world in which we live, it is not all good. No doubt we are better off now than we were 20 years ago, in terms of communication. The days of DOOM over 32k modems and floppy discs are long dead, and yesterday’s high water mark is swept away like a car in a hurricane. A few will cling to and search for it, but it is gone for all intents and purposes.
Even if we can, and sometimes do, get back to such things, we wonder and shake our heads. What’s the point? A low speed Internet connection is worthless. With these days gone, we live in an era that nobody could’ve predicted: a person can access his or her email with a device that fits comfortably into their hand, and is no taller than a juice box. Not only that, the entire wealth of the Internet’s information is at a person’s fingertips.
Flirt with that special someone on your online dating profile, then check the score of the StarCraft II championships as they go on in Seoul. A flick or two later, you’re able to tag your friends with you in a Facebook post, then invite a few more over. We can bring it anywhere. Anywhere with a WiFi connection or Ethernet cord) is a suitable place to park your body, plug in, and get to the world.
That said, we can’t escape it, either. It’s become a crutch to some, even a necessity to surviving.
As a student in college, my life is consumed by electronics. Writing for multiple online websites is just the tip of the iceberg. My iPod has become an alarm clock, stereo (when docked), emergency notepad, cell phone, camera, score keeper, news portal, and even radio. The pen and paper have gone the way of dinosaurs in my life, thanks to poor handwriting skills I’ve had since I was little.
I have moved on to taking notes and doing almost all of my work on my laptop. The perks are there. I can go back to my class on the Geography of Russia and review things from years ago if I need to without worrying about some coffee spilling on it, or any other problems. A quick skim will reveal that there are some gaps in my notes from where Civilization V, cat pictures, and yes, Facebook, have wormed their way into importance.
We’re ever connected to everything we need, as long as the power is on and the Internet is moving. Days where I’m missing my laptop and iPod revert me to some sort of troglodyte state. I’m forced to write my notes by hand, and then bang rocks together for some sort of amusement.
Needless to say, it sucks without my tech, and I know I’m not the only one. Somebody loses their phone and the rest of her friends don’t hear from her that day? Everybody around the coffee table tosses out suggestions as to where she might be, some running from the simple to the clearly absurd. The GPS died? Nobody has a clue where the heck we’re driving to, and suddenly it feels like a mutiny on Christopher Columbus’ ship, as everybody sits with their faces pressed to the windows, waiting for the glimpse of the next road sign or gas station so we can get a clue where we are.
I’m all for technology, and I am well aware of my hypocrisy in saying this as I sit outside, pounding away at the keyboard, but maybe we should wean ourselves off a little bit. Don’t worry, your friends won’t think you died if you haven’t checked Facebook in a hour, and your video game collection will always be there. Go outside, see the sun, and leave the gadgets inside for once. It’s kind of pleasant.
[Image by Vectorportal]