Tools Of Ignorance

Oops, this is not the Samsung Galaxy Note II

Yesterday afternoon I traded in my old Motorola Droid X for a new Samsung Galaxy Note II. It was a big purchase for me but I spent a month or so researching phones and more than a few moments thinking about what I use mine for and what sort of features I really need.

Since it wasn’t an impulse buy I walked away from the store feeling good about my purchase and have been more than pleased with my new phone.

It is powerful, easy to use and has given me every indication that it is going to exceed my expectations. If every purchase I make in the future yields this sort of return I will be a very happy man.

That is unlikely to happen, but that is ok. Life is filled with moments where you are happy with your decisions and moments where you realize it would have been easier to hit yourself in the head with a baseball bat.

Technology- A Double Edged Sword

My children are growing up in a world that is so very similar to the one I was raised in, yet so very different. Technological advances have shrunk the world and made it possible to do things we could only dream about.

I remember when my friends and I used to talk about how cool it would be to a watch like Dick Tracy that would allow us to talk to each other. We watched James Bond movies, Star Trek and Star Wars and dreamed of the day when we would have some of those cool “toys” to use too.

Well, those days are here.

We can use our cellphones for video conferences from virtually anywhere in the world. We can make the kind of home movies that make the old Super 8 footage look like Civil War relics and then point, click and share those with millions without effort.

Yet there is a cost to all of this and I am not sure if we even know what it is.

Constantly Connected

Our phones and devices are electronic tethers that keep us constantly connected to a world that doesn’t always need our attention. Beeps, whistles and assorted vibrations let me know every time someone responds to something I have tweeted, written or commented upon.

This isn’t always such a good thing.

Clients, bosses and colleagues have come to expect almost instant responses to their comments and questions. It is not much different in our personal lives either.

When we call, text or email family/friends small delays in a response make us wonder what is wrong. If we don’t hear back from them within a short time we fear something has happened or ask ourselves what we did to upset them.

It has become harder to maintain a healthy balance.

From a related but different perspective I have begun to wonder about the impact of technology on our memories. People don’t spend time memorizing telephone numbers and all sorts of other information because they don’t see a need.

If it is stored in the cloud and accessible by phone/tablet/computer than why do we need to fill our helps with such stuff. It is only when we lose access to our data that we start to become concerned.

Awareness

I don’t hate computers or cellphones. I am not upset by technological advances or crying wolf because I don’t believe the sky is falling.

If I am preaching anything here it is to be aware of whether we control our devices or allow our devices to control us. I like using my head and try to keep my mind sharp by making a point to remember things.

I like using the tools that technology has given us. Overall they have been a gift and like any other tool their usefulness has been predicated upon the skill of the user.

Still, I can’t help but wonder a bit about where things are going and what this means for my kids.

What do you think?

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8 Comments

  1. Lisa Gerber December 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    The Jetsons! I loved the Jetsons, and now we can buy groceries from our home. 🙂 well, I think you nailed it – the balance is in controlling or devices and not letting them control us. I have to draw lines otherwise I get in trouble with my spouse. 🙂

  2. Mary Stephenson November 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Josh

    Technology…good and bad for sure. Okay I am probably about the only one in the universe that doesn’t own a cell phone (my husband has one). Don’t want one either, sure I can see how they can come in handy. I have On Star on my car if I am in trouble. The rest of the time I am out with hubby or at home.

    The advantages I see for having a cell phone is if you have it plugged into your ear and you can run around talking to yourself and people don’t think you are weird! Before compact little cell phones, people would give a lot of room for people that would be talking and no one was beside them! LOL

    Gee, I have enough problem understanding the workings of a computer, let alone the new remote for the TV. Maybe some day I will get with the rest of the world on this, who knows.

    But joking aside I am amazed at the extreme advances in technology, we have surely come along way even in the last 10 years.

    Mary

    • Josh December 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I understand why some people don’t want cellphones and sometimes I want to go back to the time when I didn’t.

      But I love mine because it is really a portable computer that provides more freedom than it takes. It is simply a wonderful tool that I am grateful for. It contains my calendar, music, movies, phone/address book and so much more.

      It is also something I use for writing. I take notes, write posts and snap pictures. If I didn’t have one I know I would get used to it and that I would be just fine.

      Still, I admit I have no interest in going back that way.

  3. Hajra November 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Congrats on the new phone! You should have typed this on your note and gone like “I typed this on my note!”

    The Galaxy Note II is a great choice. It is huge!

    I think we let technology rule us far too much. We get carried away and let it do everything for us. It is all about how comfortable are you with it being a part of your life and how much!

  4. Sapna November 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Hi Joshua

    Firstly congratulations on your new phone, which is an excellent buy, no second thought to it.
    You have rightly said that technology is a double edged sword, on one hand it has given the freedom to the left part of the brain which in coming few centuries can become a vestigial organ but on the other hand it has made us a slave of our bosses or customers who are now expecting results at the speed of light, can trace us anywhere and anytime.

    At one time of my career I could recall how I was able to solve simple Math questions like 58*64 very quickly, now I immediately jump to the calculator on my laptop or phone.

    My children are borne in an era where there Facebook is a part of their curriculum it appears, most of the times they are on other social networking website as well. I feel even if their left brain wont get developed their networking skills surely be.
    We are on technology expressway where there is no red light, whosoever will try to stop, will be thrown away or discarded.
    Thanks for your great post.

    Thanks
    Sapna

    • Josh December 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Hi Sapna,

      The electronic leash aspect of modern technology is very troublesome to me. I am definitely not a fan of that part. Nor do I like instant gratification. There are good things that come with it but the level of impatience it generates concerns me.

      I don’t nor want to be the person to turn on a red light, I just want to add a little caution to the mix and a dash of concern for what sort of compromises we are making.

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