As a recent Facebook convert, I have come to see the beauty (and insidiousness) of the most powerful social networking tool mankind has ever known. I was a hold out until my scramble to cling to my senior year memories and connections led me to take drastic measures: I joined up. I now see the potential in utilizing such a tool. Having seen the futility of my stubbornness, I started to re-evaluate the role of technology in other areas of my life, too.
Lately, I am starting to feel as if I am being left behind and that I will not be able to catch up. Do you ever feel that way? Will I be declared untrustworthy if I try to limit the role technology plays in my life? Is it possible that I will permanently fall out of the loop? Will a decision to remove television from my life come back to ruin me? I am constantly expounding upon the virtues of television-free living, but more and more, I find myself unable to participate in conversations with my peers about the shows they watch because I am unfamiliar with the subject matter.
I like to think I am in control of technology; I use it to facilitate my ideas and desires but keep it from replacing the more important things in my life. For instance, I am beginning to consider the possibility that I am doing myself a disservice by refusing to get a smart phone with a full keyboard. I wonder, in five years, if my thumbs will be irreparably behind the times, leaving me without the communication skills vital for the 21st century.
While these examples are partially in jest, it is important to assess the role technology plays in my life. I strive to maintain a balance, ensuring that technology never becomes the master while also making sure I utilize the opportunities it provides. For example, I’ve found myself addicted to the blue glow of my laptop screen. I am currently testing my willpower each morning by seeing if I can delay the compulsion to turn on my computer as soon as I wake up. Until recently, this was always my first action of the day.
After I gave in to the whole text messaging thing, (which I was also slow to adopt), I now see it as a legitimate form of communication. However, when I hear that little beep from my phone indicating someone has just sent me a few kilobytes of information, I lose all focus and clarity and cannot resume my current activity until I check my “Inbox.” Clearly I have a long way to go before I can confidently declare myself the master.
When I think about computers during my short existence, I am struck by another fascinating revelation. Myself and others born in the late 20th century experienced the universal proliferation of personal computers. This gives us a unique perspective on the matter: we are able to remember life before and after computing came to dominate human lives. Those before us are virtually technological illiterates and have a hard time grasping the most seemingly basic computer knowledge. Those born after us are completely immersed in it and have never known a life without constant, binary input. Our insight can be used to further the dialogue about how technology will shape our lives in the years to come. My exploration of what technology means in my life will not end with this posting; I will try to remain conscious of how it influences me and will try to remain open to adopting new advances in the future.