Technology – The Good, the Bad, the Silly

At first, the more “high-tech” cell phones became, and the faster the internet expanded, it didn’t bother me. When we got Compuserve back in the late 90’s to early 2000’s on our Windows 98 computer, it was a wonderful moment for me. I could check out fansites for Pokemon (I was 13 at the time), go on Compuserve’s chatrooms and talk to people from all over the United States, and I could send email instead of hand written letters. It took me a while to get used to looking up the card catalog in a library on a computer rather than pulling out the giant drawer which often times was longer than I was tall. When things are brand new, they are always the most fun. Then they grow, and they become insanely popular, and they start to go from fun to addictive and annoying.

Certain internet tools like Google and Bing searches, are fantastic. What makes me a bit sad however is, around two years ago I started my website, http://www.alexandranofi.com, during a time when people still visited websites. Now, all of it has moved to your facebook page, your twitter account, your wordpress blog or another type of blog site. No one really has a personal .com anymore, or they do and no looks at it. How did the power of the website which was around for nearly two decades, disappear in popularity in under two years?

Here’s another frightening thing they recently talked about on CNN: A man who had his facebook, twitter, gmail, iPhone, iPad and Apple home computer all linked up together, was hacked. The hacker broke into every online account he had, his Apple gear, and erased all of the information he had gained for the years he had been using these things. Not only that, but his hard drive was wiped clean as well. This hacker only did this to prove that he or she could do it. I really don’t have sympathy for this guy, maybe I should, but I don’t. My point here is that we put way more faith than we should in our electronic devices, to the point where it becomes devastating when we lose them, break them, or have them stolen. Granted, if my laptop that I spent $350 on was stolen from me I would be very upset, but a laptop is replaceable. Your iPhone is NOT a person. I’d like to interview a random sampling of parents who own iPhones, and gauge their reactions to having their iPhone stolen versus having their child stolen. If the majority have a stronger emotional reaction to having their iPhone stolen, it won’t surprise me.

The most disturbing thing I have seen to date, is a family of four on the train last year, each had an iPhone, and they spent the entire four hours looking down at the phones without making eye contact. What’s worse is that, they never said any sentences to each other that were longer than a few words. The ridiculousness is that there is NOTHING happening on that phone that is worth more than having a vocal conversation with your child. Facebook, twitter, instagram, cinemagram, tumblr, myspace, youtube, do not have crucial information that could change your life forever. It’s all useless stuff that often times has already been mentioned on the news in far better detail, but you were too busy looking at your phone to turn the television on.

There are certain aspects of the internet that I love. Because of facebook, and other social networking sites, I have friends that live around the world. I know people from London, Japan, India, Africa, Canada, along with people on the other side of the United States. Good friends like a woman I know who lives in Savannah, GA. I have spent more time talking to her through Skype and my house phone, than I do talking to my boyfriend. Good friends that someday I would love to meet in person, instead of talk to through facebook statuses and twitter direct messages and reblogs on tumblr.

We as humans are designed for face to face conversations, and we crave that social reaction more than anything else. We as humans are also easily addicted, and companies that make smart phones love feeding off of us because of it. Part of why these companies are constantly updating their smart phone products once or twice a year, is because of the extreme usage and demand. If we put down the phone once in a while and watch television, go to a movie, read a book (not on a kindle or nook, mind you), chances are, the production of these smart phones will become less of a need, and more of a luxury. Companies will chill out a bit, and maybe explore other avenues for getting our cash, possibly from things which could be legitimately useful in our every day lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for someone intelligent enough to design a touch screen phone. Engineering is not an easy task and requires a careful thought process and a lot of math that would drive many people up a wall. But put that intelligence to good use in other things besides redesigning a phone once or twice a year. Perhaps that technological thinking could be applied to hospital equipment in countries outside the United States who have limited hospital supplies? Wait, never mind, because those things would cost millions of dollars to make, and to get back double what they spent they need to charge those countries an arm and leg which is something they cannot afford. Because making the world better and putting people before profit just isn’t in these companies’ agenda.

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