Perspective – Technology

It’s no secret that I struggle with Technology.  I joke (#therestruthinjest) that I have some sort of technology repellant that has been imbedded in my body as I often deal with techno failures that usually infuriate me.  I began to think, am I the only one?  What do others think of technology?  Is it the be all, end all, or is it the AntiChrist?  Or is it something in between?

I’ve asked 7 women to share their thoughts on this topic (7 because I am #8!  I wanted to play too.)  I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

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“I think that there are some cases where technology can be helpful and some cases where it cannot be helpful.  Why I think it can be helpful is sometimes when I’m doing my homework and I have to research something, I can go onto Google and just research it.  Why I think it can be bad is because sometimes it can show me things I don’t want to see like a trailer for a rated R movie, something really scary, or something that is not kid friendly at all.   And that’s what I think about technology.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

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“I’m a fan of technology. Maybe that’s a bias perpetuated by my experience or some algorithm, but either way, technology as a whole has aided my experiences.

For me, personally, technology has been extremely beneficial. I have a background in science/engineering and have worked in a lab or two, so I’ve seen, firsthand, how beneficial technology can be. In the form of new equipment that runs experiments faster or more efficiently, to new and innovative techniques that help you get a deeper understanding of a certain disease process. Technology can have a real impact on advancement in many areas.

I also recently started blogging this past year and have seen another way technology can be extremely beneficial. It has allowed me to connect with others I may have never met. I’ve been inspired by, collaborated with, and formed friendships that may never have happened. It’s amazing how distance used to prohibit connection. But now, distance is no longer a factor. You can connect with people all over the globe. It has created many new and exciting opportunities for me, personally.

Of course, I’m not naive to the changes evolving technology has brought. As technology has evolved we have seen apparent changes in communication, education, politicking, etc. The complaints and fears are real. Lack of social engagement because everyone is on their phones. Algorithms designed to cater to your previous searches to make your life easier have, in fact, reinforced biases and often led people to live in a bubble. People desiring to live up to social media standards. There are countless ways technology can cause significant impacts that are not always for the best.

I understand and empathize with these fears of others. With the changes that are hard to accept. Though, in my opinion, it is not the technology to fear but the intention. Intention is something we often overlook and is the reason it is so easy for technology to bear the burden. But if we really look into the root of all, it is the intention of use that really is at the heart of it. I believe that, with anything (not just technology), if your intention is out of love, out of goodness, out of betterment, then technology should not be something to fear. It is when the intention is out of fear, out of selfishness, out of hate, out of power, that is when we see misuse. That is when we see destruction and that is when we should fear. To me, it is not the technology to fear but the user.

As history (and biology) has shown, change is often a hard concept for humans. All technological advances, from the dawn of time, have come under some sort of scrutiny (and many times, for good reason). Maybe I am too optimistic about the subject, but, as a whole, I believe technology is good and can harness great changes and connections for the betterment of humanity. And I will continue to embrace it with caution because the users are only human.” ~ Cristina 20s (Blog: https://www.spatialdwelling.com/)

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“I have an amazing love/hate relationship with technology.  As I sit here and write this, I’m currently without power for the second night in a row.  I’m absolutely humbled by how the lack of it can turn my life upside down.  Despite my careful meal planning, I had to throw it all out the window and resort to take out and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner since we cannot power our stove, oven, or microwave.  My 9 month old son is sleeping in the other room but I’m left with uneasy, new mom nerves without the video monitor that I am usually glued to.  It’s safe to say that we have become so dependent upon it that we’re suddenly crippled when we don’t have it.

Technology has done some great things.  I’m instantly connected to my faraway friends and family and can feel like I’m part of their daily lives despite the fact that I haven’t seen them in person in months or years. But there is also the negative side of technology, the time suck of getting pulled in only to reemerge hours later having done nothing productive with that time.  Sitting in bed next to your spouse only to realize neither of you have spoken to one another in you don’t know how long.  I guess it’s safe to say that technology is a necessity that when used carefully can be a powerful tool but should always be used in moderation.”  ~ Jackie 30s

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“My thoughts on technology…the first thing that comes to mind is how technology has given our kids such a drastically different childhood from the one I had.  Kids today have everything at their fingertips.  I have recounted many times how when I was a child we had to wait an entire year to see The Wizard of Oz on TV and if you missed it, you’d have to wait another whole year.  No recording it, no watching it later, no fast forwarding through the commercials either! (GASP!)

In this age of instant gratification, I see how my kids never have the luxury of being bored.  They are never forced to use their imaginations to entertain themselves.

We also had the benefit of not having to be in constant contact with our parents.  When I was a kid, I could leave on my bike in the morning and be gone all day.  My parents had no idea where I was or who I was with, but they trusted me to be on my own.  I’m sure on some level that helped with my confidence and growing independence as I got older.  There was a freedom we had as kids in the 70’s and 80’s that kids today won’t necessarily get to experience.

When I think of how technology has enriched our lives in this day and age, I can list many examples.  I have the ability to stay connected with friends and family who live far away.  Simply calling someone on the phone no longer requires watching the clock and dialing the number “after the long distance rates go down” at 9 pm, then timing your call to make sure it didn’t cost a fortune!  I can keep track of people from many different periods of my life on Facebook, many whom I know I would have otherwise never reconnected with.

My life is undoubtedly easier with the technology we use every day in our lives.  I can order my groceries online and pick them up in front of the store.  I can order clothing and shoes from internet retailers and save us from having painful trips to the mall, dragging uncooperative kids along with me.  I can reach out and communicate with my kids’ schools and their teachers at a moment’s notice.  I can monitor their grades and see what we need to work on more at home.  The list goes on and on!

It begs the question, if our lives are so drastically different now from how I remember growing up as a kid, what will the world and technology in our lives be like 20-30 years from now?!” ~Jen 40s

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“Although I definitely appreciate our modern conveniences, I still struggle with technology failures and how dependent we have grown on it for social interaction.  I think my favorite thing in my life after my family, my cat, and my bed, is my iPhone.  It is my entertainment, sometimes my workspace, and my chief means of communication.

Being a young child in the 70’s, I quickly began to understand that once a gadget stopped working, it was done for.  I often times struggle with getting technology to respond to me in the manner of my choosing.  I am the vampire girl who cannot be detected by the self check out machine at the grocery store.  I am the person who the fax machine will not work for until I leave the house.  (I have witnesses!)  And we all know this only happens when I’m in an extreme hurry.

But as a mother of one Millenial and two of whatever generation came after, I see the serious deterioration of the social skills of my children.  It’s of epidemic proporsions.  My teenagers have no concept of how to communicate with others nor any confidence in doing so.  How will this translate to interpersonal relationships as they move through their teens and into their 20’s?  How in the world are they going to be able to get through a job interview?  Cyber relationships do not provide the human contact that we must have as a species.  It’s very scary to me.  I worry that they will live lonely lives because they do not know how to build relationships.

These bad habits seem impossible to break.  I don’t see an end in sight.”

~Jennifer 50’s ish (I’ll be 50 in January 🙂 )

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It’s funny, but the first thing that I thought of when thinking about technology was Siri singing her silly song about technology.  Quite a catchy tune and spot on lyrics.  As a child, The Jetsons, Lost in Space and the 1964 World’s Fair in New York were my first experiences with technology.  I was awed by it.  Then came the space program.  Mind blowing!

I’ve always associated technology with the future.  I must admit, I am just as hooked as the younger generation.  It has made my life easier.  But I do long for a time when we were more connected person to person, not via text.  Holding hands instead of phones. Making eye contact with people as you pass instead of heads down and earphones plugged in.  I am inspired by how it has such potential for good when reading Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. Technology has changed us.  However, I must admit that it scares me as well.  As much as it can produce good, the evil and danger it can do if not kept in check is frightening!

So, as a person of hope, I believe in it’s ability to help make this world a better place.   I am grateful for FaceTime as a grandparent, and having family so far away.  And I pray that it will not do us harm.

Oh, by the way, I had to write this down with a pen before I could email it using the dictation.” ~ Barbara 60s

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“As I have aged, I realize how much easier my life has been in comparison to my mother. I no longer have to defrost the fridge, clean the oven, or spend a whole day using a wringer washer to do the laundry and I don’t have to hang it outside on the clothes lines.  I am not a big fan of new gadgets, namely rumba vacuum cleaners, iPhones, electric cars, or driverless cars.  I do like my kindle for playing games and emailing and I do like my Alexa.  I guess that I am still a little old fashioned.”  ~Peggy 70’s

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“I lived in the era of wringer washers, clotheslines and ice boxes.  When I got married I had a scrub board, a refrigerator, a record player and a TV.  Now I have a dishwasher, washer and drier, microwave, cell phone, and computer with internet.  All in the space of 84 years.

Am I happier?  In some ways, yes.  All of that expensive stuff was supposed to give me more leisure time..NOT.  In some ways it has … making long distance communication much better, but the cost is losing the warmth of face to face communication.  The ability to reach out to hug and comfort another human being.  I may have saved time with laundry, but used the saved time to talk to a non human person on the phone only to be directed to the wrong department.  All that so called leisure is usually spent in frustration.  If it was laundry day that is pretty much all I did.  Now I cram a dozen things in that small space of time.

Technology was intended to improve the human condition, especially in medicine.  New and far fetched cures are promoted so often no one is sure what is hurtful or helpful. That is one of the many downsides to technology.  It can be used for malicious reasons.  Fear is surrounding it, especially when greed is involved.  Cyber bullying, identity theft, etc, is waiting every time you open your computer or pull out a credit card.

I’m using technology with respect and I am getting along today.  But no idea what’s ahead in the future.  God bless us all!”  ~Temple 80s

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In reading the responses from each participant, it’s clear, at every age, that we all have become dependent on technology to assist in day to day activities and chores.  As a whole, we all appreciate the elimination of distance as a barrier for communication.  But I noticed a trend, as the participants got older, the actual fear of the repercussions of our obsession with technology for future generations.  With the exception of the very young, it was apparent to all that although communication with faraway friends and family has improved, the communication with those we live around day by day and minute by minute has deteriorated. At every age represented here, there was an appreciation for technology in general, but also healthy dose of fear.