Everywhere we look we find flashing screens.
To quote Dr. Seuss, sometimes I get sick of, “the NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!”
But the “noise” isn’t going away. We can either complain about it or learn to live in the midst of it, because the third alternative–moving to rural Montana and becoming a hermit– isn’t an option for most of us. (Although my husband dreams of retiring to Montana, where trout outnumber humans 16,667 to 1.)
Despite my grumbling about all this distraction, I am not an anti-technology curmudgeon trying to start a campaign to ban all technology involving the microchip and return to the days of slide-rules and rotary phones. Because I am as addicted to modern technology as the next blogger and I recognize the benefits as well as the pitfalls. Here are a few things I DO like about technology:
Research: As a writer I frequently search for odd bits of trivia, such as the gestation period of a horse or the names of Greek sea nymphs. The internet makes finding such esoteric facts a breeze. I can click from one fascinating link to the next, learning all sorts of things and wasting hours that would have been better spent actually writing. Oops.
Connectivity: Modern technology gives us instant access to millions of people. That means people I’ve never met from countries I’ve never planned to visit can read my blog, or share theirs with me. And social media allows be to reconnect with
old (ahem) bygone friends from my school days. But is spending 20 minutes coming up with a perfect, oh-so-cleverly worded facebook status really the best use of my time? And I haven’t even mentioned Pinterest, Twitter, Candy Crush or the plethora of other fun, addictive activities that can so easily suck hours of our life away.
Communication: E-mail, cell phones, instant messages, texting: they have revolutionized the way we communicate. Today’s technology gives us easy and instant access to friends, family and all the local pizza shops. Those wonderful devices enable us to converse at any convenient time and place. For example: My mother frequently calls me from parking lots while she waits for Dad to run an errand, and my sons like to call me while they walk across campus. But how often have I interrupted whatever productive task I was doing (we’re assuming I was being productive, work with me here) to check a text message that will be just as readable 23 1/2 minutes later when the task is finished? Who’s in control, me or that little hunk of plastic? Sometimes I wonder.
Shopping: The local WalMart no longer carries ink cartridges for my printer but I can order them online and two days later they arrive in my mailbox, saving me an hour round-trip to the nearest office supply store. What’s not to love? The variety of stuff I can order from the comfort of my desk chair is truly amazing. One caveat: it seems that purchase-by-mouse somehow circumvents that inner voice that normally warns against unnecessary, impulse buys. I’m not saying I have an entire basement full of empty Amazon.com boxes (but I know someone who does.)
The list could go on, but I’m already in danger of wasting your valuable time ranting about this stuff. So in closing I’ll say thank you to all those who replied to last week’s blog, especially those who gave suggestions for ways to wrest control of our noisy world. We can overcome the tyranny of those infernal devices. It just takes will-power.
Now, if only we could find a way to eliminate televisions in restaurants! One friend says she simply walks out the moment she spies a TV screen, I may have to join her. Either that or get my nephew to invent a pocket-sized device that reduces all nearby televisions to the blue screen of death.
Maybe there’s a market for that? Hmm…