Friday, November 12, 2010

A Technology Love Affair

The winner from last week's contest is: Jen Daiker!  Congratulations Jen! I will be e-mailing you to get your mailing address. Now for this week's column:

When asked recently how she liked her new iPad, a friend e-mailed back, “Oh my gosh, I LOVE it!” Yes, she used the word “love” and yes, she used all caps.

Likewise, over the past few days I have found myself telling just about everyone I know that I love my new phone – referring to my Motorola Droid X. I took my time deciding which smart phone to buy, but now that I have one I can’t imagine how I lived without it. I am marveling at the fact that I can hold a state-of-the-art computer in my hand.

Is it really possible to love technology?

We all know that every time we hear that ringtone, or that “you’ve got mail” ping, we get pleasure from a rush of dopamine to the brain, as described in this NY Times article. Technology has gotten very affordable, which allows us to collect more and more sleek devices that stimulate us. But is our love affair with technology just about that brain signal?

This isn’t the first time I’ve fallen in love with a computer. I felt the same euphoria when I first got my first home personal computer in 1984, and again a few years ago when I purchased my first MacBook. I admit that I am a bit of a geek, but there’s something about the object itself that just has the ability to turn me on.

It’s about the look and feel of a device, how intelligent it is, and what it’s capable of accomplishing. It’s about what I can do with it, and how it challenges me to master it. It’s also about flexibility and accessibility.

My Droid gives new meaning to the term “on demand”. It allows me on-demand access to information and people, and it allows me to be available on-demand.

But there’s a downside.

Yes, I can choose to be connected, I can choose to be reachable, and I can choose to be super-responsive. And now I am expected to be connected, reachable, and super-responsive.

Yes, it’s great when you can work from home, but not so great when the boundaries between work and home become unclear. It’s great when you can take that call while you’re at your daughter’s soccer practice, but not so great when you miss her score that goal because you were too focused on the call. It’s terrific to be able to check your e-mail while waiting for a table, but not so great when that e-mail checking interferes with dinner.

And so, we walk a fine line where that technology love affair can just as quickly become a love-hate relationship.

What’s your relationship with technology like? Are you loving the technology in your life?


ltlfrari said...

I used to be a technology addict, interested in the latest and greatest gadget but over the last few years that all seems to have waned. Maybe it's because technological advancement has leveled off to a great degree. At one time it was all about the next CPU chip was about to arrive because it added so much extra power and that gave computers the ability to do more. Now, pretty much every any modern computer has enough power for 99% of users and it does not take much to get that hot gaming PC if you really need it.
So overall, technological advancement has all become a bit of a yawn.
Smart phones are neat but my phone makes calls. I think it can take pictures (I used it once or twice to do so) but that's all I use my phone for because it's a phone. No really, it's a phone, not a 'smart' phone.
I work with technology every day. Overall I am not that impressed any more.
Personally, I'd rather go play my piano, far more rewarding than fiddling with some little screen that I can hardly see (getting older is no fun!)

Jen Daiker said...

I do love technology, it's nice to be connected and get to access everything, but at the same time I'm with you, I'm now expected to always be ready to chat and entertain others, and sometimes it's too much.

Without it I would not have blogger, and that is something I no longer can live without :)

Jen Daiker said...

PS I'm so excited to have won!!! You made my day!

Colette said...

Jen, congratulations! It always nice when something unexpected happens. I hope you enjoy the book! (An I hear you about blogger!)

Itlfrari, you make a great point about the power of technology. What's also important is that the cost has come down so dramatically -- making it accessible to just about everyone.

Shellie said...

I love my laptop and wifi. It took me much longer to get in the game than most, but I got both two years ago and it opened up a brand new world. I still can't see myself carrying around a cell phone, I just don't feel the need to be that accessible to people.

Colette said...

Shellie, it is all about accessibility. You may not be an early adopter, but you might get there.

Carol Kilgore said...

I don't yet have a smart phone, just my regular cell-with-camera, but I work at home, so I understand what you mean. Even though we know there are, or should be, boundaries, sometimes they're difficult to enforce.

Kenneth H. Lee said...

I've been interested in technology since the late 70's when I was first exposed to the computers available at the time. I have a love-hate relationship with technology. The word technology being used in the broadest sense.

On one hand, technology
- has improved our quality of life; e.g. running water, electricity, medical care, appliances and devices, etc.
- has made every day life much simpler
- has allowed us to be able to accomplish more during the day
- has allowed us to have more time to enjoy life; spend more time with friends and family.

On the other hand, technology
- has improved out quality of life, but also has negatively impacted quality of life; e.g. air pollution, water pollution, stress, etc.
- has made things simpler, but in doing so, has made things more complicated.
- has allowed us to be able to accomplish more during the day with the result that we are continually expected to improve and accomplish even more. both at work and at home.
- has allowed us to have more time to enjoy life with the result that we now try to cram more and more stuff into our leisure time. Friends and family are demanding more from us. Leisure time has become work. It is no longer fun.

I remember being at a restaurant back in the mid-90s where there was a table celebrating the confirmation of young girl. A relative gave her a pager which she was very excited to receive. The thoughts going through my mind were "Why would anyone want to willingly get a pager? Why does someone need to be that reachable if it is not work related. I had a pager for work and despised it. I was overjoyed when I was finally able to get rid of my pager. She saw it as a blessing/status symbol; I saw it as a curse. So many teens had pagers during that period. Now instead of pagers, it is cell phones.

We’ve become so accustomed to technology that we freak out when it doesn't work. Think about when there is a blackout, most people are lost without access to the television, computer/internet, etc. People appear not to like it when life has slowed down and it is not under their own control. I personally find it refreshing to be forced to slow down and not have anything to do in situations like that. Of course it can get quite uncomfortable when it occurs during the winter like it did back in Feb 2010.

Kenneth H. Lee said...

Part 2

Colette. I agree with you that the boundaries between work and home have been become fuzzy with the always connected society that we are living in now.

I've had several managers who insisted that I take my pager when I went on vacation. Much to the annoyance of my wife and myself. Some managers considered the word vacation a four letter word and would hold it against you at review time.

I have had several managers who basically forbid me from taking my pager and/or laptop with me on vacation. As far as they were concerned, vacation was time for me to get away from work.

It's a work-life balance thing. Many companies love to espouse how much they encourage work-life balance. Read between the lines, they want the balance to tip squarely on the side of work. They don't want a 50-50 split. In many cases, the managers don't want you to have a life because it interferes with getting their done.

Now that I have a new smartphone to replace the other one which had been dying a slow death, I find that I use the phone more now for checking email and other web related activities because of the data plan I was required to add. I did not have a data plan with the old phone because I had not wanted it. Previously, I avoided anything that used data because I had to pay per usage unless I had no other way of getting what I needed.

Love-hate. There are days where I hate it more than others. Especially when it does not work properly or work at all.

There are times where I wish for simpler times. When we dealt face to face with people, rather than on the phone or via the Internet. And not moving at the speed of light.

It's gotten to the point where someone, somewhere wants a piece of your hide, regardless of what day of the week it is or what time it is.

Definitely Love-Hate for me.

Colette said...

Kenneth, I have long felt that managers should actually insist that employees leave their pagers/laptops/mobile phones home when they go on vacation.

Steveinpok said...

Once again, Ms M, a great topic. For me, more hate than love. And yet.... I hate the fact that my children and grandchildren are "chained" to their various machines. Further, they are so enraptured and time consumed with them that they are missing the rest of their lives and the people in it. I definitely hated the fact that my (former) executive expected to be able to reach me 24/7 including holidays, and all too frequently exercised that option. (But my current executive, Mrs. B, thankfully does not.) It frightens me that the "starter" manual for a new smart phone is over 50 pages, just the English section, and that the details can only be obtained online. Ooops! There we go, deeper in the trap.
Reluctantly I will admit that being away from my PC, e-mail, and news streams for more than a couple of days is somewhat stressful. And of course missing your blog every week would be devastating. To vaccinate ourselves for technological infection I recommend taking a couple of days off once in a while. And yet....

Colette said...

Steveinpok, have you ever seen your children or grandchildren actually read those 50-page starter manuals? They seem to just know what to do by osmosis!

Nick said...

My family was into technology decades ago when granny could pick up the local C&W radio station with her Zimmer frame

Colette said...

Nick, that's funny. Thanks for reminding us that technology lovers have been around forever!

Steveinpok said...

Nick, my granny did not do that - please explain references

Liz Fichera said...

When you start giving your Technology gadgets human names (i.e. Nook = Nancy), you're in trouble. :-) My life is completely entwined with technology, so much so that it's hard to de-tech. I just hope I don't live long enough for the day when computer chips are inserted into our eyeballs and we get instant connection all day, all the time. We're pretty dang close.

Colette said...

Hmmm... I haven't named my Droid yet, so I guess there is hope for me yet.

One Womans Eye said...

Yes I love technology...but like any love affair sometimes you need to take some time away to find out how much you need and appreciate each other!
I.E. my Tech Detox Diet series a few months back.

Colette said...

Joanne, your detox diet was great, and a lot of fun to watch!