Ah Technology

January 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm 2 comments

Inventions and the human imagination have enabled us to do many new and amazing things, but I think perhaps technology has jumped the shark.

I made it through college (as a writing major mind you) with a manual typewriter. Went from that, giddily, to one that typed like a player piano, to a desktop computer, to a laptop, to (if I could figure it out) a way to create and send documents on my cell phone.

My brother and sister and I grew up watching a black-and-white Zenith with about 4 channels and a National Anthem end to the programming day. Tonight I can watch a gazillion programs on a big ol’ color TV, a VCR, a DVR, a DVD, or (if I could figure it out) my cell phone.

I once had thee coolest electric-blue AM radio shaped like a donut. Later I had a gargantuan glass-fronted cabinet that stored a turntable, receiver, and my albums. Then cassette player, double cassette player, CD player, 5-disk CD player. Now it’s a recordable CD drive and itunes, plus (if I could figure it out) a way to listen to my tunes on my cell phone.

Yes, a cell phone is a huge improvement over the wall-bound rotary dial, and it has been a godsend during a couple of emergency situations—like being stranded at night with a flat tire or getting separated from my friends at a Jimmy Buffett concert. But there was a time when you never heard a phone ring in a theater, in the grocery store, or (not making this up) at a funeral. There was a time, not so very long ago, when you could actually get away from it all because the hotel didn’t have cell service or internet. There was a time when you never had to listen carefully to the options for pressing 1, 2, 3, 4, star, or pound.

Yesterday I pushed a bunch of those buttons to activate my new ATM card, and the recording told me I had to hold the line to confirm something (sounded official). And . . . ah, ohhhh . . . I had to dodge the advances of a zealous, rude, pitbull of a telemarketer—without the hang-up option—before being “approved” to have access to my own money.

I will concede that, despite a real nostalgia for gas station attendants who would saunter up to the driver’s side window and chat pleasantly, wash the windshield, put air in the tires, and check the oil, there are times when being able to pump the gas myself when rolling home on fumes at midnight has had its advantages. Today at lunchtime, before they would actually allow gasoline to flow, I had to answer 2,735 questions to (apparently) explain why I was standing in a gas station freezing my ass off while parked next to a gas pump with my gas cap off.

Technology has not made our lives easier. It has given new ideas to the Evil Bastards. And they learn faster than my middle-age brain.

In high school, I learned to type in a class that lasted an entire semester. When desktop computers were new, I attended a two-day training seminar to learn WordPerfect. These days, with absolutely no formal training, I can’t get through my day without Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Diskus, InDesign, iCalendar, iMovie, three different voicemail systems, three different email programs, two different IM programs, a bit of Illustrator, a CRM system, and two different web/CMS systems. And, oh yeah, the programs to manage my blog, my facebook page, and my Twitter tweets.

As technology has made it possible to accomplish more and more tasks more and more quickly, we have, quite simply, become accustomed to having more tasks on the to-do list, doing more things ourselves, providing more information, reading more manuals . . . and expanding our vocabulary to include phrases like stress headache, hyper-tension, and Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?

Pick a technological advancement in your lifetime. Tell me why you love it and/or hate it.

Entry filed under: Humor - Commentary. Tags: , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. patty  |  January 22, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Love caller id taking all the risk out of answering the phone
    Hate caller id taking all the joy out of answering the phone

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    Reply
  • 2. Shareen  |  January 29, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Technology. I drown in it every day. I am surround by clicks, beeps and rings. When my cell phone buzzes (I never turn on the ringer), my heart starts to beat at a tremendous pace. Not because I am excited but because I am nervous. The people can find me no matter where I roam. They find me in the grocery store, in my car, in the bathroom. And I – being the sap that I am – find it necessary to give in to their uninvited interruption by texting, emailing, calling, tweeting, facebooking back ASAP (which is usually immediate). So my problem isn’t necessarily with the technology, it is with the damn noises that the technology makes. Make the buzzing stop! I want just one stress free, immediate action day! BTW… I loved my word processor and I pulled it out the other night just for a little old school fun!

    Seriously… my cell phone just buzzed again. I think I am going to hide it under the mattress for the weekend.

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