Technology, Have we gone too far?

There are days that I long for the twisted pair; you know the POTS line or (plain old telephone service.)  Yes, the one that hooks up to the one phone, on the wall or in the hallway in that special little nook that was designed by the architect for it. I would even go back to the dial phone, as I think that it was not only a simpler time, but probably a more reliable form of communication. OK, maybe not, but since we were not on it all of the time we had no idea when it was not working.  The phone after all was not for kids..

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I don’t know how many of my friends had a dial phone but, if you did not, you missed out.  Calling a radio station to be the 25th caller was a real chore back in the day.  If you won and I did once, it was a real conquest!

Speaking for me personally, I have at least 6 email addresses, the cell phone, the business phone, fax lines, house phone and of course SMS text messaging and even IM on FaceBook.  I am also a ham radio operator and have half a dozen radios that can all be going at the same time, but most of the time not.

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No, not me, but my station back then looked a lot like this!

It would seem that I should be able to be reached.  Back in the day, I had a pager as well although, that thing was really nothing more than an electronic leash; for whoever had the number.

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When I was a kid if I wanted to talk with a friend, I would go get on my bike and ride to their respective homes and ask the “parent who answered the door” is “fill in the blank” home and can they come out and play?  Yes, a little like the Cleavers..

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When I was a little more sophisticated, (8years old,)  I used a Walkie Talkie to talk with my friends that lived within a half mile or so.  That in a large part prompted me to get my ham radio license at a whopping 13 years old.  With that; I have visited with thousands of folks all over the world, but that is another story for another day.

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The Smart phone, which is why I am writing today, is a marvel of technology.  It is the Swiss army knife of communication!  With that device I can call anywhere in the world from just about anywhere.  I can send text messages and pictures of whatever interest me.  I can get them as well.  I can send a video to someone or receive the same.  With Facetime or Skype, I can live video chat with people too!  I can watch movies or play games and yes, I can poke someone on facebook from the waiting room at the Dr.s office. The camera quality is such that if I had the mind to I could take a “quality picture of my dinner” and post it on facebook as we all want to see what you ate for dinner, right? Wink wink.  The camera part is really quite true, it is a really decent camera for a phone!

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There are some issues with this however; of which I wish to expound upon.  First and foremost, SMS text messages (at least with my phone and service) are not guaranteed to make it.  Back when e-mail was new, the common greeting on a phone call was “did you get my e-mail?”  E-mail is not 100%, it never has been, and it never will be.  E-mail is more reliable today as the servers are more persistent and the internet is more robust.  It is still not guaranteed to get there.

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Text communication whether SMS or e-mail or chat on some service can be dicey as you don’t get the facial queues that you do; well… in person.  One can discern some queues in tone of voice when on the phone but, without emoticons and “LOL,” we might not know if the person was serious or kidding!  That type if communication leaves lots of room for miss-communication.

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We are in fact a world in transition regarding our communication. I have many “friends” on Facebook but, how many of them know me personally?  How many of them know my favorite colour or type of food, or I theirs for that matter?  So one has to ask, just how good of friends are we?  Would they even want to be my friend in person?

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When is the last time that you spoke with your neighbors?  Do you know their names or anything about them?  I have two new neighbors of which I have made a point to introduce myself to, welcome them etc but, I also made a point to know their dogs name, and introduce myself to him as well.  You should have seen the owners face light up when I took the time to get to know his pooch! I am not bragging about myself; or chastising you, I mention this because I realize that most of us pull into the garage, and close the door behind us.  We leave the same way and “in my case” I use a lawn service so I don’t even have the opportunity to meet while I am butchering my grass. “hence the lawn service, I ruined the yard when I cut it the first time.”   It was tiff grass I think, and my mower was not made for it…. I think.  That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!

Don’t depend on text or e-mail as it is not super reliable.  There are times my phone will go off in the middle of the night, with all sorts of text messages, from days ago!  I keep it with me most of the time but I have to admit, it too feels a little bit like a leash at times.

You know the old story about the lost invitation to the party, it may really have gotten misplaced.  If something seems out of character with the person that you know, trust your instinct and call. If the invitation to the party does not arrive, call.  If you were not invited well, re-evaluate that friendship.  If you sent them a text, they may not have responded because they did not get it!

Finally, turn off the computer, phone, and tablet and unless you are watching a movie with the family, turn off the TV too.  Spend time with those that you love, as you never know when or if you might have the opportunity to do it again (if ever.)  Life is too short to have regrets and when I see complete families out at expensive restaurants, all on some phone, or some device well….it makes me a little sad for them.  What memories will the children have?  What about mom and dad when the kids are gone?

To me eating out is an event.  To some, who do it all the time it is simply eating.  I can eat at home but there is the preparation and the cleanup.  If I eat out I am “served!”  There is not preparation and no cleanup and there is also the friendly exchange of conversation not only between whom I am eating with but, I also make a point to learn the servers’ name, and use it.  While they are, “serving me;” I make certain that they know I appreciate them.

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Life is about making memories.  Good or bad, life is what it is.  One day, not too many years ago I was taking my daughters friend to a college across town.  After we left her college I picked up a bolt in one of my tires which left me and my daughter stranded on the side of the road in a less than great area of town.  It was summer about 110 degrees on the side of the highway.  It was about 300 after I got the car jacked up and about 500 when I discovered that the oil change service that rotated my tires had not put the tire lock key back in the glove box!  We had no water, and now I was back out in the heat taking the jack back from under the car all the while having her call the auto service. You know *4357… Yeah that one.

After getting back in the car, the auto service had no information on me or the account and would not send a wrecker.  Even after I told them that I would pay the wrecker just please send one! They refused to help because I was not a customer they were not obligated to lift a finger.  The auto service was paid for through the cell phone carrier and it is insurance that you pay for monthly.  We were a customer and the customer service girl just fat fingered it when she looked up the phone number, you know the 10 digit phone number that should have been on the screen in front of her!?

Very long story short, after witnessing drug deals, going through gas to keep the air on and doors locked and wondering if the car would overheat, and having to go to the bathroom, we finally got a wrecker right at 5 in the afternoon, rush hour traffic!  We had been out since 9am without food or water or bathroom, on the side of a busy highway since about 10 am.

Even though that was not a great memory, it is a memory, and I did get to spend the entire day with my daughter with no computer to compete for my time with her.  OF course in retrospect, I don’t think either of us was real great company…

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Is a poke on Facebook, or a text to someone, more important that being with friends or family in person?  I too am guilty but, I try to be aware of it and resist the temptation.

-Best to you and those that you care about!

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