It's hard enough getting up on a Monday morning but this morning was even harder than usual. I got up at 4:45am – I didn't mean to get up that early but inexplicably during the night my iPhone decided it was going to jump forward an hour. I rely on my iPhone for so many reasons. There are three things I grab when I leave the house; my keys, my purse and my iPhone. I don't even really use my iPhone as a "phone" I use it to text or to update my Facebook page with a "check in" which basically lets everyone know where I am at any given time. I don't know why I think anyone would be interested in knowing that I am at the salon or the grocery store but I do it anyway. This morning's technological hiccup got me thinking about how much I count on the gadgets I own to get me through the day and how much I may have lost because of it. Now don't get me wrong – I embrace technology, it makes my life easier, much easier. I just wonder about how we coped before and whether we are doing ourselves a disservice by allowing all of this technology to basically run our lives for us.
When I was a kid we had one phone in the house, it wasn't even cordless. If I went out and had to call my mother to let her know where I was, I used a pay phone. Can you even find a pay phone these days? There were cell phones but teenagers certainly didn't have them. If the school needed to reach my mother for any reason, like the time I broke my arm in gym class, they would have to call the house. If my mother wasn't home, as was the case this time, they would have to keep trying till she did come home. If one of my kids falls sick at school, the nurse can get hold of me wherever I am – that's a good thing. However with the good comes the bad – you can never really be incommunicado these days. Wherever you are someone can find you, the cell phone is your own personal leash.
There used to be a time when I had a road map in my car and I actually used it. Who uses a map? Now, I think the GPS is a great invention, no fumbling around trying to figure out where you are, just program it and go. But are we allowing ourselves to be so reliant on tools such as a GPS that if we actually had to find our way from A to B without it, we would be lost? Of course you can always go to the trusty computer and pull up MapQuest which will give you turn by turn directions and even tell you what time you should arrive at your destination. Years ago when I was in the British military much of our training was centered on learning how to use a map and a compass. We used triangulation points to find out where we were. It was laborious but effective – I could be wrong but I am guessing that the military doesn't spend as much time on this skill nowadays.
And that brings me to the computer. To be honest I do not know how I survived without it but I did. My computer is my lifeline. I use it in almost every aspect of my life. The computer is a great tool. I hate to shop; I do most of my purchasing online, in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in my hand. Want to review a business, vacation destination or movie? It's all there. It certainly makes homework a lot easier. Teachers post assignments online, the text books are online, the kids turn in assignments online. But again for all the time it saves me it also ensures that I waste time too. I have managed to avoid Twitter but I am addicted to Facebook, any time that I save by using the computer for other tasks is quickly sucked up by the time I spend checking out what my Facebook "friends" are up to. I don't even want to admit that I am hooked on Farmville. I now have 4 "farms". I am seriously in need of a Farmville intervention.
I haven't written a real letter in years. I haven't received a real letter in years. I communicate in three ways these days: text, email and Facebook. I miss letters, real letters. I haven't made any resolutions this year, maybe I should. Maybe I should resolve to sit down and write something on paper, with a fountain pen. Maybe I should dig out a favorite old watch, wear it and actually check that instead of my iPhone when I want to know the time. Maybe I should buy a road map? Ok…that's probably going a little too far but the watch and letter writing I can do. I also need to buy myself a good old fashioned alarm clock.
I think that the key is to embrace the technology that makes our lives so much more efficient – we really are better off for it. But we also need to remember that technology is not infallible – sometimes it fails – we need to know how to get by without it, not only out of necessity but because sometimes it just feels good to do things the old way.