The below is a guest post.
I’m Eva Ozawa. I freelance for MyTrendyPhone.com. When I’m not writing, I’m busy buffing the fingerprint smudges off of my new iPad Air. Lousy kids, who needs ‘em anyway?
We all have complex relationships with the technology in our lives. For me, these relationships are always changing, developing over time and seeping into different areas of my life. Where did our sweet little devices come from and what role does technology play in our lives?
1977 brought about the mass-market consumer electronic devices with the launch of microcomputers, and only the wealthiest tech lovers could afford one. In 1995 I was hearing about the fact that computers used to take up an entire room, and some people built their own. A few short years later I was always being handed the corded house phone when my best friends called, or worse, a boy I liked was calling and my siblings and parents questioned me relentlessly.
In the days before teenagers had their own cell phones and Siri could tell us whatever we wanted to know, we listened to the beeps of whatever painfully slow process occurred as dial up internet did its thing. It was great though! Dial up took me to my recently updated Myspace page that continually started playing Ja Rule and Ashanti’s “Always on Time”. Thankfully times have changed; I no longer care who has me in their top eight, I refined my musical taste, and browsing a few photos online doesn’t take an hour.
Hardly anybody had a cell phone in high school, and high speed internet was impossible to come by. Now technology has dramatically progressed and in the process taken on new roles in our daily life.
We used to be able to simply answer the question of how much and what kind of utility is added to our lives by having our great gizmos perform calculations and send letters at the speed of light. Now the question is a bit more convoluted. Not exclusively used for getting things done more efficiently, society’s interaction with technology has also taken on characteristics of comfort, luxury and excess.
Most math students have heard from their teachers the huge blessing that calculators are to mankind. The students back in the day had to use thick books to calculate logs and roots. Thank god for computers, they make our lives so much better. They brought new meaning to the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. While it is true that our tech has long graduated from being the product of many utilitarian brainchildren, what else does it do for us?
We all have calculators on our smartphones, tablets and laptops but do we really appreciate them for making our lives so much easier? Most people would say yes, but there is definitely a portion of our love of tech that results in our climbing the social ladder of success and boosting our self-image.
According to Information Technology program director James Anthos from South University, Columbia, having the latest technology lets us express our level of social status. We flaunt our devices around in public with eyes and thumbs glued to our precious little rectangles. This of course can cause all sorts of awkward accidents. “Most people make sure that they always have their device in sight, spend an inordinate amount of time pressing the screen to the point of walking into a pole, in front of a bus, or tripping because they are so absorbed in handling and showing off their device,” Anthos says. Effectively cancelling out that trendy and important feeling we get by showing our toys off, our relationship with technology bounces back quickly. Some of us may even learn a lesson or two about too much multitasking, but only if we are the lucky few.
Navigation and google maps and other aspects of the internet I certainly appreciate, but the devices that bring this information to our fingertips are taken for granted, cursed at for being too slow, and laughed at when they are out of season. Do we really need the type of communication we have with others? Certainly a landline line would be enough for most purposes, but then there is the “in case of emergency” excuse. If something bad happens to you when you are away from a phone, you are shit out of luck. Barring the ease of contacting emergency help, some have gone so far as to say that the way in which smart phones allows us to contact people at any time or place (Facebooking anywhere), is destructive to our relationships.
Technology’s shift from utility to bragging rights also resides in the fact that we also personalize our cell phones and iPads with accessories, making the statement that we are not just another iPhone lover; we are a unique and creative iPhone lover.
It might seem like I’ve just belittled our relationship with technology, but don’t worry I won’t make it sleep on the couch. Utility and otherwise are not mutually exclusive. Just because people like to show their newest tech off and feel important, doesn’t mean they aren’t better off for having it available. I believe our technology is inherently good – it is something I am thankful for every day. Just don’t quote me on that in the event of a Cylon genocide many years from now.