Back then, we didn’t take photos with our phones (cell phones weren’t exactly on the radar, either), and when we did take photos, we had to wait days to see how they turned out – unless we were using my aunt’s Polaroid. When people called us, our phones weren’t programmed with individual ringtones so we would know who it is right away. It was a bell that rattled the same way for any caller, and even caller ID was years away from being invented when I was small.
Our dependence on technology today is so great that many of us would be in trouble if it failed, myself included. All my phone numbers for contacts – friends and associates alike – are stored in the contact list of my phone. I have a few really important numbers written down, and a few even more important ones memorized. For the most part, though, the loss of my phone would be a bit of crisis.
It’s not just my phone. I used to – and I know quite a few others who still do – use the iPad I got for Christmas to keep a calendar/date book for appointments and interviews. I stopped doing that back around November of last year, when the battery died and I couldn’t find the charger for almost a week. I’m a pen and paper man all the way now, at least when it comes to calendars. I treat the technology as a back-up reminder, but if it isn’t written down then I’m taking a risk I will not be able to access the information. It’s a little humorous that I know where that calendar is at all times but I can’t keep up with a charger adaptor quite so easily.
All of this to say that I believe we’ve become completely dependent upon technology as a society. The generation coming up behind us – starting with the people entering the workforce in their early 20s – never really knew a world without cell phones or the internet. The generation after them will most likely never know a world without social media. Stories about people who lost touch after high school as they went out to make their own way in the world will be rarities, stuff of legends. High school reunions, while still a great way to spend face time with old friends, lose a lot of their meaning when I can type in your name on Facebook and scroll through your wall to see what you’ve been up to.
So what does that mean when technology fails, or when someone is in a situation where technology is of no use? At a student assembly a few years ago, I listened as the speaker told the group of elementary and middle school age kids that they’d better still learn how to be sociable, because in any job interview, the finalist candidates will have to have at least one face-to-face conversation with someone somewhere. If you can’t talk to people in a one-on-one or small group setting, you might get passed over for job opportunities.
It was a great message, and a reminder that no matter how much technology takes over, we still have to brush up on our “people skills.” What’s more, relying too much on technology to manage our lives can be a set-up for failure when that technology fails. If you lose an important contact’s phone number, a document, or your daily schedule that was stored electronically, it’s definitely not something that will make your life easier.
My advice — write it down if you need it, and don’t let that notepad or calendar out of your sight.
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