Don’t Blink

If it seems like things are moving pretty fast these days, you’re not imagining it. At a conference the other day several people were talking about some technical improvement, and one of the participants piped up, “Well, back in the day…” The thing is, he was talking about three years ago, not 1940.

In certain circles these days, it’s expected that each individual must have complete access to all of their friends, music, videos, and the knowledge base that is the internet at all times. Thinking about going to a record store to buy an album, bringing it home, and playing it on the stereo has the sense of the Stone Age about it. By comparison, now it takes seconds to download a song and listen to it, and then share it with a friend. It can be any song from virtually any era. Listening to Gregorian Chants on an Ipod may seem like a paradox, and I guess maybe it is.

Some groups of people seem to be obsessed with being connected. Most are younger, but some folks well into adulthood are losing their fingerprints due to the wear and tear of constant texting. I know people who are frequently short on sleep as they try to keep up with Tweets, Facebook posts and texts. They wake up with a phone between their faces and their pillows. That can’t be good, can it?

It would be befitting of a person my age to launch into a diatribe about the fast pace of technological progress, but I won’t do it. I remember my own parents rolling their eyes at The Beatles and transistor radios and the like. Technology happens, and things that are proven useful tend to survive, and other things fade away.

Not many people carry pagers, for example. And fax machines are an endangered species, soon joining typewriters on museum shelves with dial phones and 45’s.

Common sense (an oxymoron) should play some role as we embrace evolving technology, but it often doesn’t. Video or computer games are fine for those who like them. Playing them at the expense of hygiene and social interactions is probably not well advised. And, the benefits of reading or experiencing the non-virtual world can’t be overstated.

I guess that’s the main thing that’s on my mind. The appeal of these new technologies is great, but our ability to use them appropriately is something we haven’t yet learned. If being completely connected and in touch all the time becomes an obsession, well, it’s an obsession, which implies an unhealthy state of mind.

I expect that at some point more and more people will withdraw from some of the technology excesses. Already some people are leaving Facebook, and I’d bet that Twitter will someday be the answer to a trivia question. But, who knows?

Television isn’t new, but it was a revolutionary invention. There are many things I wouldn’t now know if it hadn’t been for TV, but I wonder how many things I don’t know because of it. Re-runs of Hogan’s Heroes may be mildly entertaining, but reading a book about World War II would be more edifying, and unless the war was more amusing than I think it was, more accurate.

I, for one, won’t become a slave to technology. In fact, as soon as I save this document to a folder and attach it to an email and send it, I’m going to defrag my hard drive so I can update my media files more efficiently. And if there’s time, I might go outside.


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