About 10 years ago, I was in the car with my stepson and a friend, both in their teens. They were complaining about some issue with their cell phones and I said, “For one weekend, I’d like you to live like I did when I was your age: One dial phone in the hallway, a black and white TV with just four channels (ABC, NBC, CBS and an independent) and no remote, a portable AM radio that also got decent FM if you lived in a big enough city. To research a homework paper, you went to the library … on your bike. You carried a dime with you at all times to call home from a payphone if you were going to be late.”
“I just won’t do it,” was the friend’s reply.
Those of a certain age have told similar stories, but I suppose I really wouldn’t want to go back either, despite my love of simpler things. Because the Internet changed everything … and I’m truly grateful for it.
I remember a time when a colleague showed me an email for the first time. I was amazed, but like many, I wasn’t sure whether it was a fad or forever. History gives us the answer. In what seemed like only months, email became pervasive in our work world, then our personal lives. We learned to use search engines like AltaVista and Yahoo for research. Now, of course, we simply ask Uncle Google to answer any of our questions.
Social media has allowed us to stay in the know at any time and communicate with friends easily around the world. Smartphones ensure we can get information and communicate from anywhere while taking glorious pictures to musical accompaniment. Want to watch a movie? Stream it from your Smart TV … no need to go down to the video store for a VHS tape!
With advancement came consequences. Managing email and its spam is a constant struggle. Social media offers up unwanted ads and fake news. We love the dopamine rush of the notifications so much that we can’t put our phones down, so we play mobile phone roulette when enjoying dinner with friends. Technology is so ubiquitous that we’d be a bit lost without it. When’s the last time you saw a pay phone?
To me, the benefits outweigh the consequences. I couldn’t work remotely from a place I love without it. I have video meetings nearly every day, keeping me in close contact with my work colleagues. Information needed for my work is just a few keystrokes away. I can type faster than I can write by hand, so I’m a productive writer. Sure, I miss the in-person interactions with my colleagues and the randomness of the “hey, let’s get coffee” meetings. But I’m also not killing myself with a long commute … in a city that no longer brings me joy.
So I will take the bad along with the good, because the internet and technology transformed my life for the better.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. We’re able to write this blog and share our adventures because the internet changed everything!
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