Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slave to Technology

By Annette Dashofy

As I write this, my wireless Internet connection is down. Obviously, I won’t be able to post it until the techie guy comes out and waves his magic wand (if only it were that easy) and puts me back in touch with the outside world. OR until I get fed up with being in cyber-darkness and take my laptop to Panera Bread to use THEIR wi-fi connection.

I’m amazed at how emotionally dependant I’ve become on technology. Me. The farm girl who is married to the outdoorsman and who loves to go camping and “roughing it.” I like to think that I’m not as tied to gadgets as the folks I see wandering around the grocery store with a cell phone stuck to their ear. Having once worked retail, I tend to sympathize with those who tackle the thankless job of ringing up people’s orders. When the customer can’t even drag themselves away from their cell phone conversation long enough to exchange the smallest of pleasantries, let alone acknowledge the existence of the person handing them their change and/or receipt, I have to believe that rude has taken on a whole new meaning.

Modern technology claims to put us in closer contact with our loved ones. Give your kids cell phones and put them all on a family and friends plan. But instead of really connecting with anyone, they learn to talk to faceless voices. Or better yet, communicate in a new form of short hand. LOL. BFF. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of this strange method of communication called text messaging. But these folks are completely disconnected from the world around them. They roam the world like zombies. They don’t “see” the other shoppers around them. This summer, while bike riding on a wilderness trail, I passed a young girl walking the other direction and talking on her cell phone, oblivious to the beautiful scenery around her.

Being a crime writer, I instantly created a plot for a murder mystery where the victim is plucked from a hiking path by a villain she never saw because she was so focused on her phone call.

I mean, don’t we teach girls to be aware of your surroundings at all times? How can you be aware of a potential threat when you’re deep in discussion with someone miles away?

Anyhow, I like to think I’m not that bad. I don’t even listen to music when I’m outdoors. But I do carry a cell phone everywhere. In case of emergency. And if I’m in an area with no service, my first reaction is panic. What if someone needs me and I can’t be reached? It takes a while, but eventually, being out of touch becomes freeing. There’s a reason that ignorance is bliss.

I’m waiting for that sense of freedom to hit me now as I wait to have my wireless Internet reconnected. I can, after all, still write. In fact, I’m sure I’ll get a considerable amount of work done on my current work-in-progress without the distraction of checking e-mail. So why do I feel like maybe I’m missing THE message from my agent with news of a big publishing contract?



Anonymous said...

I remember being on a horseback riding trip in the middle of a peat bog in Ireland, and the trip leader got a call on his cellphone from a girl he'd met the night before in a pub.

It definitely spoiled the illusion of being "away from it all."

"Rots of ruck" getting reconnected!

Joyce Tremel said...

I feel the same way, Annette.

My cell phone is only a necessary evil. I only used 30 minutes last month. Even on our home phone, we have the bare minimum plan.

The guys at work were having a conversation at work the other day about their cable TV plans. One was bragging how he played Verizon and Comcast against each other and ended up getting "all the premium channels" phone, internet and a DVR for "only $150 a month." His previous bill was over $200/month. I had to butt in at this point and tell them that my cable bill is only $12.88. Of course, they thought I was an idiot. It just amazes me that someone would spend so much on a gazillion TV channels that you couldn't possibly have time to watch.