derekfetters

Technological Convenience: How Useful is it?

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2013 at 12:32 am

I’m having one of those moments where I hate taking the bus. It’s ten o’clock at night, it’s 42 degrees, I just missed my transfer from downtown, and now I have to wait 17 minutes for the next bus. But the truth is, as much as I hate waiting for the bus, I think I would hate owning a car more. The only vehicle I ever owned myself was a motorcycle: a Kawasaki LTD 750. It was a nice bike, but it was falling apart.  Every month was another problem. The thing was a money sink and the idea of having to deal with that plus car payments plus insurance seems horrible to me. Why would I want to lose my money in that fashion?
Besides, now I have time to read, and to write screeds like this one, while awkwardly avoiding people’s gazes, as I sit next to and ignore new people, and try to identify the source and ingredients of new smells.

This is telling of how modern post-industrial life is a balance of conveniences and inconveniences, weighing one against the other.

Another example: I’m worried that the smart phone I’m typing this on can make things too convenient.  I woke up this morning in a funk, remembering a friend’s advice about how she found videos of guided mediations on YouTube that helped her relax and focus when she was stressed.  So I planned to do this in the morning, but my mopey mood was so strong that I stayed in bed for 20 minutes after the alarm went off. And then I remembered I had a YouTube app on my phone, used it to look up “guided meditation deep relaxation”, plugged in my headphones, and was soon on a blissful journey.

Yet, my life doesn’t actually feel any better.
Instead, I find it scary how convenient this is. I take this as a sign that we’re on the verge of becoming Jetsons where machines dress us and brush our teeth. Today, I can spend 30 seconds to find a guru to lead me through a guided mediation without even leaving my bed. Next year, will there be an app that will rotate me in order to prevent bed sores?

But, am I overreacting? What if this turns out to be a good thing? I’ve been thinking about this as if new technology is the ruin of humanity as a species, as if technological convenience is a monster that will murder my family and motivate me to run to the arctic where I will die on an ice flow grappling my smartphone in eternal struggle. But really, it’s just a phone, not Frankenstein’s monster.

However, as I am typing this on the bus, I can see some of the paradoxical effects of the technology as I use it. I am surrounded by people who will not talk to each other, and I plan to later connect to people by posting this on my blog. That way we can all, separately, communicate, possibly reading the blog on our smartphones on the bus where we refuse to speak to the person next to us.

Yet, through writing this blog, I’ve come to see the undeniable power of the written word. By writing my “Time Travel Project” entries from journals from 28 years ago, I’ve realized that the true power of written language is that it is telepathic time travel. Because of written language we have access to thoughts from centuries ago. This is an amazing technology that we take for granted. Writing a blog on a bus with my phone is just another permutation of this technology.

I have yet to truly understand how to navigate the balance of these technologies of convenience in my life. This whole blog, hell, this whole life, is an experiment and I don’t yet know how this all shakes out.

UPDATE: Oh, crap. And just after I posted this, I found this article: Why the Secret of Happiness is Turning off your Mobile Phone

Which I found thanks to this video

  1. This entry is your finest so far! I laughed out loud in several places as I read this entry, myself being a 19th Century man trapped in a 21st Century world!

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