It’s an interesting place to be. I had a record player as a child, although they were replaced by cassette tapes and CD’s by the time I was in middle school. There were still chalkboards in my classrooms, although they were being abandoned for overhead projectors by high school. I hand wrote my papers until I started college in the fall of 1993, where professors required that all papers be typed and printed on at least a dot-matrix printer. And I heard my first cell phone go off in public when I was sitting in a class my senior year in college during the fall of 1996.
We have come a long way. It’s hard to believe there’s a device for everything, and they keep developing new things and coming up with improvements on the old. Now laptops are lighter and faster, and are being slowly replaced by tablets. Books now come on e-readers and phones are smart. I remember a conversation I had recently with a person in their 50’s that was lamenting on how complicated things are. “I don’t need a phone smarter than I am,” she griped, “just make and take calls. That’s it.”
“I don’t know,” I said, “sometimes I need for my phone to be smarter than me so it can keep me from looking stupid.”
She didn’t seem to understand that was the point of a smartphone – to keep you organized so you don’t look like a blithering idiot because you were late for a meeting (or worse yet, forgot about it), or because you didn’t get the e-mail that went out 2 minutes ago while you were dashing up the stairs. To her, it was all a pain in the rear.
Personally, I feel technology has made my life better. I long ago determined that the most crucial tools in my life are my laptop and my smartphone. The laptop because I deal with a lot of documents and it keeps them all in one place and makes them easier to access, and the smartphone because the multiple functions keep me organized and give me up to the minute news and information when I need it. I don’t have to dig through file cabinets or track down a newspaper or television to find what I need. And after years of juggling paper in school I can say from experience that the less paper I have taking up space and giving me papercuts all over my hands, the better. A 5 pound laptop is nothing to carry around when I’m used to handling 30+ pound bird cages anyway.
I do understand the concern that we’re getting too dependent on technology, and am glad I was raised in a generation that learned the “old way” and “new way” parallel to each other. I have nothing against file cabinets, calendars, or newspapers. The digital way just seems more efficient and easier to manage to me. In the end it’s a matter of personal preference.
The digital world isn’t going away – in fact, it will continue to grow – but using it is a personal preference. There will always be holdouts and that’s their choice. For all the talk of going paperless, I don’t think it’s going to happen, at least during my lifetime. There are too many holdouts that cling to the old ways. Heck, I know people my own age that don’t own a computer and refuse to use anything more than a very basic cell phone. But at least we have a choice, and choices are good. We just have to be patient with one another and respect those choices as the world continues to evolve in the digital age.
That’s all for today. Happy Friday to you tomorrow and I hope you have a great weekend.