“Your assignment,” I explained to my students, “is to write about whether or not you think we are too dependent on technology.” This was an opinion essay. Are we overly dependent on all the technological gadgets we possess?
“When I was in university,” I said to the class, attempting to paint a scene of antiquity, “all I had to type my essays on was a portable typewriter.” My little typewriter, with its blue case, was nothing fancy. Every mistake I made had to be neatly whited out. If there were too many mistakes, I had to tear the whole sheet of paper out and begin again. Yet, somehow, this faithful machine and I made it through five years of essays and assignments. Sometimes, we sat up all night together, filling the silence with the clack, clack, clacking sound of words travelling from my weary brain to the typewriter’s keys.
And then there was telephone duty. “There were no cell phones, of course,” I told the class. “In my student residence, there were two phones on the floor, in little booths, and we would take turns being on duty. If a call came in, we answered the phone and went and knocked on people’s doors, telling them they had a call.”
No personal computers, no cell phones. What about musical entertainment?
A radio, record player and collection of LPs.
For those of us of the baby boomer generation, technology has changed with a rapidity we could scarcely have imagined in the heyday of our youth. My little typewriter is long gone. Probably the telephone booths in my student residence are gone too. So is the record player that poured out such wonderful music, even though the needle stuck and lines repeated themselves over and over.
Today, I struggle with computer programs, and have a love/hate relationship with technology, but it has me in its grip nonetheless. Every day, I check my facebook, e-mail and text messages, and my cell phone is never far from hand. Word processors are much faster and more efficient than my blue-cased friend, and gathering information easily on search engines holds a seductive appeal.
Are we too dependent on technology? In many ways, we are. If all systems crashed, nothing short of pandemonium would ensue. That said, technology also makes our lives easier, allows us to keep in touch with family and friends, and opens up infinite possibilities for the future.
It appears, too, that even the reluctant can be converted. My husband was only very recently persuaded to get a cell phone. He was adamant that he would never text. But then he learned how. I was with my daughter, Hannah, when she received her first message from her father.
“Dad texts??” she said.
It appears he does.
What is your relationship with technology? Are we too dependent on it? Would we turn the clock back, even if we could? What do you imagine the future holds?