Friday, March 27, 2009

Could You Let Go Of Your Gadgets?!?

For an engineer, I am notoriously late to adapt to new technology. I deliberated for months before finally starting this blog. I just discovered Twitter and FaceBook. I still don't like text messaging.

But when I finally do cave in, I completely lose all common sense. My BlackBerry might as well be another appendage. I don't watch any TV shows live, everything (except for sports of course) is DVR'd. I can't watch non-HD television without getting a fuzz-induced headache. Anything less than PS3 ain't worthy of being played. Terrestrial radio is a bitter pill to swallow once you're used to Sirius XM. Does anyone actually still use CD's, now that iPods are in vogue?

I don't say any of this to sound materialistic. Reality is, technological advances usually make life easier. I talk to friends on IM more than via phone. My mother has a Facebook page. Portable DVD players can make a miserable child perfectly content on a long road trip. This stuff generally improves your quality of life.

But sometimes I wonder if I'm too tethered to my electronic goods. I've had BlackBerry Withdrawal Syndrome when I've been forced to turn in my gadget at corporate retreats. Nothing is funnier than watching a bunch of grown folks go full-on "Pookie" when they are jonesing for their smartphones after an hour of having them forcibly confiscated in the name of undivided attention. It was sorta pathetic. I swear I heard our regional manager offer someone a bag of cheeseburgers at one point.[1]

The flipside is that this technology makes us less impersonal and more scatterbrained. I have the attention span of a flea. I sometimes find myself on Twitter (like, literally right now as I type this) when I should be doing something more productive. And the cumulative effect of texting vs face to face human interaction is something many experts have attributed to the lack of social skills of many teens. It ain't all good.

I guess my question is, if you needed to, could you do away with all your modern accouterments, and for how long before you offered someone a bag of cheeseburgers? Could you go back to having to hit a pay phone to call someone? Writing actual letters instead of email? Reading the newspaper, instead of blogs and podcasts? Going to an actual store to buy a record rather than illegal downloads, bay-bee! iTunes? Calling folks instead of texting? If you had to give all this stuff up, could you, and for how long?

Question: Could you give up all your gadgets? For how long? What's one thing you absolutely could not give up?

[1] Name that obscure hood' movie reference for 100 Cyber CapriSuns™!

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