Slices of Life...At Our Fingertips
Road conditions in my neighborhood were treacherous yesterday, so I did what any concerned citizen would do. I checked online to see how long it would be before they improved. While waiting for weather changes, I did some shopping on the amazing dot-com site and checked email.
When I want to find a recipe for fancy chicken, I go online. When I want to contact my daughter, I send a text. When I need to double-check the correct usage of lay versus lie, I access my favorite grammar website. When I have a few minutes of free time, I check out cute cat videos on Reddit and hit the Like button a couple of times. I hardly need to interact with real people anymore. Technology is my new BFF. Yippee and Yahoo.
I’m not alone.
Remember when people used to carry photos of their kids in their wallets? Now they show off pictures of their pets and prom dresses on their smartphones. We live at a time where you communicate with your neighbors via Facebook instead of over the backyard fence and we no longer need to hold a book to read one.
The world — quite literally — is at our fingertips. And we are hooked — line and sinker. Tethered like we used to be tethered to the corded phone hanging on the kitchen wall. Except the phone in the kitchen held our attention for a finite amount of time, no more than an hour — two, maybe, if we were talking with our best friend.
Our new toys (communication necessities) have become virtual extensions of our arms 24/7, and it feels like it’s always been this way. It’s hard to imagine life before the likes of Google, Facebook and iStuff, but we lived in that world more recently than most of us realize. Google was launched in 1997, Facebook 2004 and the first iPhone was introduced in 2007. Even the most avid Facebooking iEnthusiasts have been riding the bandwagon for less than a decade, Googlers a little longer than that. Hard to believe, even for a non-techie like me.
That’s right. I’m lagging in the high-tech trek. My phone’s not smart and I am forced to access the World Wide Web the old-fashioned way: via a computer — and it’s not even a laptop. I know, that’s so 2009 — and not much of a status (symbol) for sure. Further confessions: I’ve never had a conversation with Siri. It took me forever to figure out the application is a fancy, four-syllable word for program. I’ve never played, much less given birth, in Candy Crush Saga.
Despite my shortcomings, technology is woven into most aspects of my life and I’d be hard-pressed to give it up for an afternoon — unless I could send text messages and have access to Pinterest. Then I might get by.
Jokes aside, I do worry, about our dependence on Wi-Fi, Wikipedia, and Words with Friends. Look around — at a restaurant, on the bus, at school or on the street — the majority of people are focused on their tiny, high-def retina displays and not one another. Is this good? Is it bad? I’m not sure the answer is that simple, but I do believe it is changing our culture in ways we wouldn’t ever have imagined. And we’d do best to be watchful, wary and aware.
There is no going back, of course — not that we’d want to. Technology is here to stay and it is a good thing. Great even. Without it, we’d be left to our own devices — still turning the rotary dial, adjusting the rabbit ears and pulling out a handwritten index card when we wanted to make grandma’s recipe for fancy chicken. Those were the days.
Yes, but, so are these.
Cloquet resident Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.