Technology will not dominate my life unless I let it.
Once upon a time in an age not so long ago the only ping that caused me to jump into action was the sound of a microwave. These days I seem to respond to a cacophony of sounds that interrupt my thoughts, meetings, training sessions, travel, rest periods and down time. Bleeps, trills, ring tones, bells, silent buzzers that in reality sound like a swarm of wasps, music and ‘humorous’ sound bites assail my ears and demand my immediate attention. The emergency services could learn a thing or two from my average response time because I if don’t find a phone or pick up within a nanosecond the person trying to attract my attention will die of impatience. Either that or there will be complaints, feelings of rejection and/or demands to explain myself when I do manage to make contact.
Most of the world possessed a mobile phone way before me and once I’d caught up they got ‘smart’. Friends, family, acquaintances, residents of some of the poorest countries in the world and small children all give me that ‘look’ when I pull out my basic model. The ‘look’ that says – “How can you function and continued to live without the latest thing in technology”, “man you’re sooooo old-fashioned”, “seriously dud, can’t you afford to buy a new one?” Of course, thinking these things would mean that they actually have to look up from their endless finger traversing and screen pointing to notice what I’m doing.
I’ve always been resistant to owning a mobile. I like my space and alone time therefore, I don’t like the idea of people having instant access to me and expecting an immediate response (unless it’s an emergency of course). And now with smart phones linked to social media sites it appears that I am able to know everything about your life and you mine. But I don’t want to be informed that you are on your way home and 2 stops from the station, I don’t want to discuss what you had for breakfast, I don’t want to see the latest boy you are dating on-line’s lunch box and I don’t need to know that at 12.30am you were in at MacDonalds drunk eating a big Mac with a bunch of our friends when you didn’t even bother to invite me!
My first mobile was purchased when I started a job that involved a lot of driving in the unpopulated countryside of Yorkshire, mainly because if I broke down it was a long, long walk to the nearest village for help! Almost immediately after my acquisition my boss at that time began to call me when I was on the road. My desperate attempts to answer the phone and prove that I was indeed gainfully employed and not having a snooze in some lay-by caused me to nearly crash on several occasions (this was before hands free). One night the boss rang me after hours. It was a dark, wet English night and I was staring into a wine glass of full bodied red snuggled up in front of my fake coal gas fire. She seemed to think it was a reasonable request to ask me to comb the city for an old demented lady that had happened to wander off from her home. Now Sheffield is a big place, social workers are not trained trackers and being a Cinderella service we don’t get overtime. I told her to call the police! Not long after a friend berated me for not picking up and, to my mortification, I actually apologised to her for being on the toilet at the time. After these incidents I decided that I needed to take control – I put the phone on divert or turned it off – depending upon my situation.
Do I give the impression I dislike technology? Well that would be wrong. I think it’s wonderful. It saves time and money, keeps me in contact with loved ones, allows me to access new information and educate myself, opens new doors and opportunities. But it is just a tool and as such should enhance my life not dominate it.