Technology Enriches But Are We Losing Something?

by Curt Kovener

Like many of my baby booming colleagues, I have had a cell phone for a time that is now numbered in decades. It started out as the small shoebox size bag phone in my vehicle which I justified in case I had car trouble on the road.

Then I upgraded to a much smaller digital flip phone that could be carried in a pocket. And I justified it because it had better battery life and better signal.

Eventually, I reluctantly upgraded to a smart phone which I justified because it was bigger than the little flip phone and my aging eyes could see the numbers easier. And the computer-in-a-hand communicator did a lot more than the previous dumb phones.

I can check e-mails and delete the spam. If needed, I can respond to e-mails. With the recent batch of winter weather, with the touch of a button or two I can check the weather radar and plan my business trips accordingly. I can refer to my maps program for not only directions but traffic information, satellite and topographic views. I can read local and distant newspapers on the phone during lunch.

Some smartphone users listen to music and watch movies on their phone though I still prefer the full theatre wide screen experience.

I can easily stay in touch with family and they with me. Ditto for friends and business associates. Many of my friends have dropped their landline phones; opting for exclusive cell phone connectivity.

With the cellphone I am never out of touch or out of reach. And that is the two edged sword.

Many of us have stopped saying “the world is getting smaller.” It has already gotten so small that we can carry it in our pockets.

But we’ve lost something, too.

Peace and quiet have always been precious. We need solitude to take stock of our lives and the events of the day, to repair frazzled nerves and rethink plans and ambitions. But that solitude is becoming harder to come by. We have some kind of electronic window on the world in nearly every room of the house, and we can’t escape on foot or in the car.

Like the pile of work I have waiting when I take a day off from work, if we turn off our cell phones to get some solitude from the electronic noise, when we do power up the phone we can be greeted with a plethora of beeps, boops, bells and buzzers indicating the texts, voice mail, e-mails we have waiting.

It would seem that the world is always with us, and it’s got our number.