Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Technology fried: In response to Annette's last post

By Tamara Girardi

Last week, Annette posted a discomforting tale of driving through a family community to see no souls outside enjoying the weather. To be fair, it's hot out there. Yet, she has a good point. In fact, as an online college instructor, I find myself debating the interference of technology in our personal voices often.

Outside the world of legitimate techies, I guess you could say I'm somewhat of a techie. I don't program. I don't know the inner workings of my computer, but I relish and often champion technology. In my PhD classes at IUP, I have written papers arguing for the use of technologies such as Twitter in the classroom. Here's an instance of how it was done, and done well:

I love technology. It allows me to do last minute research for papers before submitting them. It allows me to check my APA via online style manuals, spell check and fact check, and access articles that I can't imagine students struggling to find twenty or thirty years ago. It allows me to spend the week up at school and return home to all of my television shows preserved in a brilliant little box (DVR) that I control with another brilliant little box (remote control).

Yes, technology is my friend.

But I'm here to tell you, I'm more than a little fried. After more than two months sitting in the air-conditioned library, typing at one keyboard after another, printing document after document, checking my email briefly and ineffectively on my BlackBerry, and who knows what else - I. Am. Fried.

But I'm terrified to pop my technology bubble. It's dangerous out there without technology. Or is it? Have we been programmed to be so reliant on technology that we can't see life without it? I must admit I have been. I'm not naive enough to even consider boycotting technology. It sounds romantic, but is it possible?

Um, I'm using it right now.

Um, you're using it right now.

See what I mean?

How far would I get in one day without technology? There's my alarm clock. My BlackBerry, which is usually checked before I even roll out of bed. My battery-powered toothbrush. The fridge that holds my breakfast. The TV that entertains me while I eat my breakfast. Wow. I can't get through five minutes.

So is it possible to boycott technology for a day? An hour? And where do we draw the line? If we cut off TV, does that mean we can't watch our favorite shows online? Or DVR them for later?

What, if anything, are you willing to cut? For how long and to what benefit?


Joyce Tremel said...

I could live without TV. Since I only have the most very basic cable ($13/month!) I don't find much worth watching. And most of the time I forget to even turn it on.

When the cable company was doing its digital conversion, we had a lot of extra channels. I found myself flipping through a gazillion channels and still didn't find anything I wanted to see. The only show I liked that I kind of miss is Holmes on Homes on HGTV.

There's no way I'd survive without my computer or the internet, though. I even take my laptop on vacation.

Jenna said...

I'm with Joyce. I could live without TV. Sure, it would impede my current crush on Shemar Moore, but that's probably not a bad thing, yanno. And we don't have cable, so all I'd be missing is the usual channels. I could do without the digital alarm clock and maybe even the cell phone, but not without some sort of phone. Not with family so far away that phone contact is all we have. And the idea of going back to writing longhand and snail-mailing manuscripts freak me out. That said, the most important technological marvel in the household right at the moment is the AC. It's 100+ in Nashville, and if we didn't have air conditioning, I think I'd die.

Joyce Tremel said...

I'm with you on the air conditioning. I never used to like it, but being of-that-age, I would definitely die without it!

Tamara said...

Air conditioning is certainly special. I lived without it as a kid. Not exactly sure how. Then again, as a kid, I didn't have email either, and I somehow survived.

This discussion of technology often pops up in my classes as there are several theoricians who believe we are allowing technology to control how we teach rather than using technology to help us teach.

The parallel question here is: are we allowing technology to control our lives, or are we using technology to improve our lives?

PatRemick said...

My husband and I recently took an entire no-email day ... and it was heavenly. I think I'm so addicted. Jungle Red is trying a challenge to make people write at least one page before checking their email... I'm not sure I can complete it!

Patg said...

I would never boycott technology. I don't use half of it, but I like all my appliances, phone and TV!! TV plays my movies and brings me knowledge I might never think to consider I need to know. But let me go back in time for the ladies.
When radio first came out and began to move into more homes and places of residence for women, the mental health of women began to improve dramatically. It offered something to keep the mind occupied and started acquainting her with far more of the outside world than she'd ever imagines. TV probably did even more, and though you can argue the good and bad of it, it did far more good. Never forget that 'being put away' was a common thing to do to women who showed signs of anxiety and depression.
Besides, just how do you expect me to get to Mars without technology??