Sunday, September 15, 2013

Somewhere Between A Luddite And A Techie

There was a time in our not so distant past that we had to wait for the mail to be delivered to find out what was going on beyond our doorsteps or our neighbourhood. It could take weeks, months or even years to learn of events in far off places.

A telegram, brought either good news or horrible news. The same with a long distance phone call. Both were expensive ways to communicate.

Now, we live in a world of technology with virtually instant communication. We can email, text and message almost anyone anywhere and often get a response within seconds. We can watch live coverage of what is happening almost anywhere in the world. We can get answers to questions on practically any topic just by doing an internet search.

How much we embrace technology is a personal choice, but it is really pretty hard to completely resist all that technology has to offer. Some are in whole hog and have to have all the latest tech gadgets. Some give it a wait and see how everyone else likes it. Some barely dip their toes.

My parents never owned an answering machine, VCR or a DVD player. They only got cable in the 1990's. They were truly part of a fading generation - back to a simpler time.

Some of my senior friends have jumped on the technology train and love being on the internet.

We all know of at least a couple of people who do everything on their tablets and smart phones - no cable connection, home computer/laptop or even a landline phone. For them, it is all about mobility.

On the other hand, an acquaintance refuses to get a computer or a cell but loves having some of the premium channels that cable TV has to offer! They haven't got a recording device so they try to adjust a social life around what they want to see!

To each, their own.

I've had cable TV since about 1980. I got my first VCR in 1987. My first answering machine was purchased later the same year.

It was fall 2006 before I got my first computer. (I'm now on my third one!) I got an mp3 player and a digital camera in the following years.

For some reason, I've never gotten around to buying a DVD player. I own several DVD's but just watch them on my computer. I'll probably get one at some point, but it isn't a "must have" for me.

I got my first e-reader two years ago and love the ability to adjust the font to a size I want. Not everything I want to read is available in e-editions, so I still buy some books or use my library card from time to time.

This summer, I ventured a bit further into the techie world, as I bought a Kindle Fire HD. With it, I can continue to read books but will also be able to keep in touch a bit easier via email and social media if I am travelling. (I'll write more about my experience with the Kindle's in a future post)

I've come a long way in the land of tech, but I certainly haven't embraced all of what a true techie would want! As I expressed in my last post (Unexpected Disconnect), I've no desire for a cell phone or a Blackberry. They are so tiny that I really doubt I'd be able to use one effectively without getting unduly frustrated with the screens and touch-pads. Nor am I willing to deal with sorting out the complexities of various contract and payment options for service. I highly doubt that I'd use it enough to justify the expense.

I've nothing against those who embrace the smart phone technology. It certainly has its place in our modern world.

Unfortunately, with all of the advances in technology, the art of human interactions and conversations seems to be lost on many. They don't seem to understand that most of us don't want to hear their side of a personal or business call while out in public. Or that there is real value in talking face to face with someone, sending a message with more than 140 characters or ... gasp ... writing and mailing a real letter in an envelope! This is becoming more of a challenge as some schools aren't even teaching cursive anymore. Personally, I have a hard time reading any cursive and my own cursive was always a disaster -  but I digress.

Don't get me wrong. I love being able to communicate with friends and family throughout the world with technology. I've used abbreviations, emoticons and hashtags in tweets and messages.

As much as I love my technology, there is so much more to life! Things to be experienced and learned beyond the tech gadgets. Just by turning off the technology - even for a little while.

I'm not suggesting you revert to a luddite - only that you step away from the electronics once in a while to see what is beyond your devices of choice.

So, why not give it a try? Turn off the devices while you're on the bus, in line at the coffee shop, the grocery store or in any public place.

Slow down and take the time to observe your surroundings.

Enjoy the view, the scents, the flavours and the atmosphere.

Have a face to face conversation with the cashier, the server or with someone nearby. Acknowledge the person and don't forget to say please and thank you.

You just may be amazed at how much better your day is when you step back from the tech and observe and/or have a bit of conversation with a real person. It may make their day a little brighter. You may make a new friend.

The world is truly bigger and more spectacular than our technology will ever be.

There is a happy medium between luddites and techies.

It's a balancing act - but so worth it!


No comments: