As I go through my day, I am confronted by several forms of technology. I wear a watch that keeps track of not only the time, but also my steps and how much exercise I’m getting. It helps motivate me to meet my health goals.
I’m awakened by my phone with an alarm that talks to me. His name is Oliver, and he tells me the weather or demands that I get out of bed. Sometimes he even tells me a joke. It’s a better way of waking up than to a shrieking alarm.
While I clean or cook, I listen to books on my phone. The narrator reads to me from a red, round, Bluetooth speaker, which also blasts music for me while I’m showering. In fact, I can even answer my phone from the speaker while I’m in the shower. In an odd, computerized British lilt, it announces “Call Incoming.” Sometimes I wish people would call me more often while I’m in the shower just to hear the voice.
People lament that technology is taking over—and this theme holds true in movies such as Wall-E and The Matrix. In fact, I recently read an article from NPR that asks the question “Will Your Job be Done by a Machine?” I admit, there are days when I ask whether or not all this technology is good for us.
In my online composition course, I use a writing prompt asking this very question. Most students argue that technology has enriched their lives, but there are a few students who claim that technology has diminished their lives. I find that interesting since it’s an online class; however, their arguments focus on the distractions of technology (pop-up ads, email, Facebook messages, texts, etc.).
For me, technology enriches my life, and the distractions of it can be managed—often eliminated with some discipline and time management.
Everything is connected to my phone: my email, my recipes, my books, my music, my pictures, even my computer files. I love having information at my fingertips. I even love learning how it all works…and every day because of my phone, I can do more, learn more, and connect to my friends more.
I have heard people complain that technology hinders human interaction. I respect this opinion, and I can see why people say that; however, for me, it makes human interaction more meaningful.
Today I had a long conversation with a friend of mine, whom I hadn’t spoken to in months. She’s not on Facebook, and she doesn’t have a Smartphone, and she hardly texts or emails anyone. Because of this, we’re disconnected. When we do talk on the phone or see each other in person, we have lots to say because we’re catching up, but once we’ve caught up, that’s it…our conversations don’t seem to go any deeper than the events of our lives.
Other friends who follow me on Facebook know what’s going on in my life, so when we connect in person or on the phone, they ask me about those events, and we discuss the deeper meaning behind them…or discuss articles I’ve posted or videos we’ve both seen. Those discussions enrich my life, and help me get to know my friends better.
On the other hand, there are some friends and family who I rarely connect with outside of Facebook. That has been a blessing on several levels, however, especially in terms of getting to know my nieces and nephews (and their spouses). Without Facebook, I would rarely know about their lives or follow their children’s growth. And for me, a busy introvert, it makes all the difference. I can connect to people without having to call or visit.
In fact, let’s do the math. I have 25 nieces and nephews, 8 brothers and sisters, four parents, three aunts and uncles, oodles of cousins, and that’s not counting my in-laws. If I were to spend thirty minutes connecting with each of them, that would take approximately 1380 minutes. Since there are 1440 minutes in a day (and if you add my in-laws into the mix), I would spend an entire 24-hour period talking just to my family. If you add my friends in the mix, then that number gets even larger.
If I did that at least once a week, that would take up two days out of a week—that’s my weekend. And for me, talking to people is exhausting. Today I spent 2 hours on the phone talking to one friend and my mother (and I talk to my mother on a regular basis as well as follow her on Facebook). I was exhausted. The thought of talking to all of my friends and family on a regular basis is overwhelming to me.
Without Facebook, I couldn’t imagine how I would stay in touch—in fact, I haven’t stayed in touch with many of them. Thankfully, most of my family is now on Facebook, and we have reconnected. It’s been a joy to see how their lives have changed over the years and to follow the births of their grandchildren. Those connections, no matter how brief, bring joy and enrichment to my life.
What about you?