Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Being Married To Technology pt 1

 It was back in the 20th century that we all started an exciting relationship with technology. Technology was alluring, mysterious and attractive back in those days. It wasn't an all day/night experience like it is now. We weren't texting in the bathroom. Technology wasn't hands on all the time. There were those in between moments of nothing that we spent in transit or just waiting. Remember? Just sitting there sometimes with thoughts in our heads. Thinking. With our brains. About stuff. And people. Or maybe the future. And sometimes, not all the time, we would catch our selves imagining what the next experience with technology was going to be like. Back in the 70's technology had names like "the radio", "TV", " The telephone", "calculator",  "pay phone", "phonograph and cassette player/recorder ", "camera (2 week wait for film development ) ",  "Instant camera", "movie camera" and if you had a projector you could watch movies at home. 
 Technology courted us and made us slowly earn it's respect. It made us yearn for more time with it. We would get up, walk across the room and turn the record over. We would manually turn it on and watch TV all night if we could. But back then our relationship with TV was still new. It was like being on a great first date and wanting to spend more time, but TV would say, " No dear. I would like to take things a little slower and get to know you better in time. Besides I like when you miss me. So I'm going to bid you good night. But I will see you first thing in the morning if you like. " Then the flag would appear across the screen as if it was waving goodnight. The national anthem would play and then a sonic tone would sound. And we would get up and turn the TV off with a sigh and go to sleep. With our thoughts. Thinking about stuff. About people. The future...

By the 80's we were pretty much going steady with technology. Some of us had headphones for our mobile cassette players. The phone became untethered from the wall. We could walk out of the room on a wireless phone. Or keep it under the sheets and talk quietly all night with our lovers and best friends. Remember that? Video game arcades were already a place to congregate and some of us even had video games we could play at home. And then Cable was added to the TV so it stayed on all night. VCRs, too. We would marvel at the Sharper Image magazines for hours, what with all its gizmos and 007 gadgetry. Pagers would allow us to connect 24 hours of the day. Cell phones started to appear awkwardly in peoples luxury cars. Folks were learning COBAL programming on IBMs and Apple personal computers. We were, in fact,  totally going steady with technology and very happy about it.
Good times.

 And by the 90's we were engaged to technology. It was an exciting time. It was a normal part of our lives. We had back packs and fanny packs filled with technology. Our cars had cd and tape collections that kept in rotation. We made mixed tapes. The appearance of technology started to get sleeker and cooler. Designer gadgets gave us the feeling of being prepared for the 21st century. Cellular phones were becoming common. The landline phones were mostly touch tone and wireless. VCRs were collecting movies we could keep. MTV was still playing music. We were still hand writing letters, but technology was becoming a  brand new part of our culture. It was changing us. And we were totally stoked about changing ourselves in our pursuit of a better experience with  technology. That's what happens naturally in any relationship. And like most relationships, technology wanted to know where this was all going. Because I guess it wanted a real commitment. Which we fully did.  And during the 90's an explosion happened in the Silicon Valley that is still rippling at full speed today. The dot com boom. The internet. The next step. The MARRIAGE. The ability to connect our already installed personal computers was something that couldn't happen fast enough. And when it finally did, the whole world changed and shifted. And since then we the people of the world have been synchronizing everything to computers. Cel phones seem to be the surrogate offspring of the internet marriage. The added feature of our engorged commitment to our beloved technology. And technology really didn't make us change, either. There are some stories of how people must learn to change for the duration of a relationship. Some people have even sacrificed their own ways and livelihood for the benefit of another. Or a family. Some people simply can't. But when it comes to our current modern relationship with technology, we do it voluntarily and automatically. There is no chain attached to the ball in this marriage. We will follow technology down the lightest or darkest path if we have to. Climate change or not. We won't live with out technology. 
We are committed...

It is now the 21st century. Our human nature, which has been relative to our environment for thousands of years, has taken a sudden twist and turn. Think about thousands of years of being on this planet as a species. Where nature provides it all. How we migrated across the planet slowly over time. The endurance of a species usually depends on its ability to adapt to its habitat. Next time you are out in public society, try to not get on your phone for five minutes and take a look around. You will notice a couple of things. One, everyone else is on their phone. Two, the connection to our environment has been replaced, subsequently altering the culture of humanity into a money quest. For thousands of years we have lived in harmony with the environment. And for the last 200 years the industrial machinery expansion has been there chaperoning us into a new era. A digital epoch. Where we convince our selves that we are in control of the natural order with a push of a button. These are the times of high adventure. And believe me, most of us our high on technology. Some of us don't even know that we are. They may have never dialed a nine on a rotary or had to walk a freeway to an emergency phone. So they don't know how high we actually are. Because they don't have a reference like some of us do. Because some of the people in this world remember the old traditions with cognitive clarity. And some of us see the process of natural order and realize a few things that cannot be replaced with technology. There are still some basic things that mankind cannot own completely: Land, water, music and love. These things will always be here to replenish what we think is missing. They will help us to find a balance with this amazing technology. Because it is not going away. We cannot simply divorce technology and go our separate ways. It aint that kind of a marriage. But what we can do is try not to let it kill us all at once. That, really is the answer so far. If we can do that, we're fine. Because we are the type of species, like most species, that like to stretch this whole existence thing out as far as it will reach. Moderation needs to also be in moderation. If we can figure out how to take technology by the hand and walk into the future, we will probably live happily ever after as a species...for a long time. 

So let's do that.