Technology and the loss of simplicity

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Sometimes while driving with the GPS in control of my every turn, I think, how did I possibly find anyone’s house before having a GPS? I remember road trips as a kid with the endless struggle of folding the map back up again. I remember printing out directions as a teenager and losing the paper out the window half way through the trip. And I remember the joking with boyfriends about them never wanting to stop and ask for directions.

Today, I can’t imagine ever leaving on a road trip without the GPS, it’s almost terrifying to think about! Whether it’s my GPS, my phone or on my laptop, I am always connected.

“Smartphones have altered the texture of everyday life, digesting many longstanding spaces and rituals, and transforming others beyond recognition.” – A Sociology of the Smartphone

Today you can store and display: purchased tickets, insurance cards, medical information, and your credit cards. You’re hungry?

Then search for restaurants near you, peruse their menu, order online, pay with your stored credit card, lookup their address so you can GPS to the restaurant, and the most basic of tools on the phone…. make a PHONE CALL.

We no longer have to carry pictures in our wallets or worry if we remembered to bring our plane tickets; it’s all with you in your phone. It’s hard to say whether our constant digital connection is better or worse for us. All the memories I have that are tied to the inconvenience of the non-digital past, are precious to me. Somehow not being able to hold a picture from my wallet brings me sadness; yet at the same time, I have instant access to hundreds in my phone. So, is this better or worse for us?

My kids will never know a world without having everything at arm’s length in their cell phones. It amazes me how my 5-year-old can navigate through a phone or iPad without any hesitation. He will even see something cute and say take a picture, now post it to Daddy. He doesn’t quite understand the difference between texting a picture to Daddy and posting to social media. But he does know that that picture can be sent to anyone instantly. If I find myself at the grocery store without the grocery list I thoughtfully put together, I can call my daughter or husband to send a picture of the list which is laying on the kitchen counter. (Of course, had I put the list on my phone, I would not have forgotten the list.)

My teenage daughter can instantly look up statistics for any friendly debate – whether it be what the capital of Arkansas is or what is the best ice cream place in NYC. Can you imagine a teenager today having to use dial up to post a picture on Instagram? (I giggled a little at the thought)

Today we live in a very scary world. I can’t imagine not being able to keep in touch with my daughter, my mom and husband. I don’t know how my parents survived not knowing where I was for hours at a time. My parents had no idea who I was with or what I was up to. My daughter has had a cell phone since she was 8. Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone? We bought her one because she was carpooling for practice and it was a way to make sure she had arrived safely. It also helped us feel more secure when she slept over at friends’ houses. She didn’t have to ask permission to call us, she could just pick up her phone and let us know if she needed us. For safety, I can’t imagine not having a cell phone so that I am able to connect with my loved ones at a moment’s notice. It’s a convenience without which we would struggle.

One thing that I have noticed with cell phones today, is that we have forgotten how to strike up a conversation with strangers. When you look around you, everyone has a cell phone up to their face and an apple watch that they are consistently checking. Years ago, when waiting in line or sitting on a train, you would start talking to the person next to you. You don’t see that now! In fact, if you ask a person a question, you will feel as though you are disturbing them. As a society, we have begun to lose the personal connection with each other. Our phones keep us connected to our loved ones and close friends… even connected through social media with people from the past; but we have forgotten how to make new friends with a simple conversation.

We have to remember that despite the convenience of technology in our very busy day to day activities; we have to learn to “disconnect” from our phones and “reconnect” with the world around us. It moves fast, look up and take it in.

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