The security alarm at home was beeping for the nth time. Had it suddenly happened in the middle of the night, I would have been scared out of my wits. Luckily it was at 4 pm in the evening when I was wide awake. I am almost always clueless when it comes to technological troubleshooting, so I obviously had to wait for the man of the house to get back from work and figure out what was going wrong. The problem receded to the back of my mind once it was fixed. But it sent me on a journey to reflect on our dependence on technology, and how it can be a pain when it goes haywire.
Security company slogans abound: “Peace of mind is a matter of choice”, “Stay safe, your family is counting on you”, “Big data needs big security”, “Securing your journey to the cloud”. These catchy emblems no doubt have an impact on the consumer. Despite the impressive statistics that installing a security system makes a home less vulnerable to thefts and burglaries, I think it’s more of the homeowner’s state of mind that comes to play here. That he or she is safe with the gadget being stationed. But what happens when the option is not available? People still have their lives going on. I grew up in a house minus a security system. We simply made sure that we locked our doors and windows securely when we stepped outside or when we went to sleep at night.
Lately I have been racking my brains over the question of whether I had really lost hundreds of pictures clicked over the years. I had not kept backups of those photos, and because of some “apparent” computer malfunction, they seem to have disappeared. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they can be retrieved in some way. It makes me wonder if the pre-digital photography days were better. Even though developing photos was an expensive process, we had those memories beautifully preserved in our photo albums. Now since we click pictures by the minute, we do not care much about printing them, and these are just stocked in the hard drive.
How lazy and mechanical have we become with technology at our finger tips? The answer is: to an infinite degree. We no longer take the effort to remember anyone’s phone number because it’s always stored in the mobile device. The GPS comes to our rescue while looking for a place, so we can afford to be absentminded and get lost since we know we will eventually find our way out! An interesting article in Fortune (February 3, 2016) titled “The Internet Makes Us Stupid and Here’s Why” makes a very valid point. The author reasons that creativity and richness of human intelligence are fostered by exercising our long term memory and stimulating our long-term faculties. Unfortunately, our overwhelming reliance on the Internet for all facts and figures is the deterrent in the growth of an innovative and focused mind.
My father belonged to the old school of thought. He laid a great deal of importance on good handwriting and correct spellings. I see a totally different picture these days. A fifth grader who showed me the rough draft of a novel study he was doing told me not to worry about the spelling mistakes. With great confidence and a smile beaming from ear to ear, he said that his misspelled words would be automatically corrected once he starts typing his paper on the computer. So technology is indeed breeding the “auto correct generation” or to put it in harsh terms the poor spellers.
The big bullies in schools and colleges have emerged in another new avatar – as the cyber bullies. Privacy, security, everything is at stake. As much as you may have been on cloud nine at the discovery of a long-lost friend through Facebook, you have also felt sorry for those who have been victimized by crooks on social media.
I can bet on anything that I will have a big number siding with me from the parents’ fraternity on a very important issue. It would do us a lot of good if headphones or earphones, whatever you call them, were banned from use. Many of us may be having a youngster at home multitasking with those ear plugs on, either listening to music or something else. While giving divided attention, they hear only half of what you have said or totally misunderstand the directions you have given them. If your kid is an aberration from this class, you need to thank your lucky stars. That cable television and video games have given birth to a generation of couch-potatoes is another bitter truth!
I would be a hypocrite if I say that I dislike technology; I rather love it. Every time a new model of an iPhone is released, I hope that it will be gifted to me soon! Since the last several years, I have started enjoying reading books on the Kindle because it’s much more convenient than carrying a heavy book around. Thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime, I’m catching up on nice shows and movies I had earlier missed. And last but not the least, it’s all because of technology that I am constantly in touch with family, friends, and relatives. But as they say, even a rose has its thorns, and technology does too! So as much as we may extol the rise of technology and bask in its glory, it certainly doesn’t cost anything if we look at this phenomenon through another perspective and once in a while dwell on its hurtful side!