Thursday, 7 April 2016

How Much Technology Is Too Much?

I've seen more emails in my inbox in the last three months alone, for remote controlled drones, bike and car cams, apps, app programming courses and all kinds of newly invented ( and it must be said, quite ingenious) MFD'S (multi function devices) , than in the last three years put together. Wow indeed.

As a volte-face reaction to this swathe of gadgets and gizmos, with app upon app and more apps for afters, I've found myself hankering for some retrospective action with simpler devices and gadgets.

Does anyone remember any of these?

It's analogous to going back to the womb of a more analog world and sucking on the thumb of your retrospective electronic nostalgia, whilst feeding on the milk of the comparitive simplicity of the experience.

Take for example, your pre-smartphone mobile phone or cellphone handset experience. How long did the battery last between charges?

And were you concerned with having extra battery backup packs? Or screen protectors? Or cases that double up as a ..

No, you wern't.

By comparison, do you have enough charge left by 4pm on any working day this week to ensure you can use all of your social media apps, whilst being able to get your email and web browsing experiences into the rest of the day, still having enough juice left to listen to five or six songs ( no one listens to entire albums anymore...discuss) in the process?

It's a difficult question to answer without 'uhmming' and 'aahing' ( whisper it, but NO is probably the likely answer)

But why?

Because we've travelled far away from the convenience and simplicity ( which surely was the original point) of having a mobile phone, into the realms of carrying a close facsimile of our desktop or ( more likely these days), laptop on the move.

And as much as I love the convenience of being potentially able to more or less do some of what I do at 'desktop' level whilst away from a stationary place of work ( or rest & play) , it begs the question as to why I should feel the need to supposedly do so all the time.

I guess it's because like many others, I was told it was the best way forward. Because my life is now busier than ever, i'll love how all these  features make my life easier. The exoskeleton of my daily, weekly and monthly life, will be effortless to synergise (and manage), using my smartphone.

Okay, so it has made my life somewhat easier in some areas, but its complicated it, too.

Firstly, I have to ensure I'm carrying a charge cable in the car, or if I'm away for most of the day and on the move, the  actual plug-in charger with me in a bag or in a pocket; the horror, the horror.. unsightly bulges ahoy.

Alternatively, there's always a rechargeable battery pack. And that in itself has to be kept topped up as well, in case you use it and blast all the juice at the moment when you least need it. Which is when you'll be watching something on youtube, and are ironically only half an hour away from your car or train arriving, with the cable and/or aforementioned charger in your pocket ( just in case). In effect, the irony, the agony and (not much) ecstacy all made manifest in one fleeting moment.


Secondly, unless I carry a wireless keyboard around, then typing anything beyond a few lines in an email  ( I won't get into the realms of producing a spreadsheet or an article using my smartphone and the built in touch keyboard interface...does anyone do that? And regularly ? If so, I bow to your tenacity, skill, craftsmanship and zen-like patience) using the smartphone, is about as easy as milking a plastic cow.

Thirdly, I cannot physically print anything out without carrying a printer around with me. So that's even more bulk and bulging pockets. And that is one more step along the slippery road of 'this is too much'. It ultimately facilitates carrying a large briefcase around which is..


And finally, why is it that most people (including myself) , don't actually like to talk a lot ( or at all?) on the phone anymore? Is it because of the multitude of ways you can now communicate using your phone WITHOUT actually talking?

We now schedule time to meet for a drink in a pub or coffee shop using our smartphones, whilst we're ironically then sitting there staring ( and swiping) into our phones. Actually giving each other our time and energy has then become the secondary activity. We occasionally look up at each other to acknowledge our presences, but the main retinal focus point is the smartphone screen. There's a myriad of expressions and facial contortions that are also part of this experience, but that's an 'each to their own' scenario.

Ultimately, it appears to be that the device itself  seems to be the only real friend we now trully have.

And all of our actual, flesh & bone composite friends have become similarly lost in a myriad of swiping, tapping & bad selfies ( I've not seen too many good ones, but they are out there somewhere) on social media websites as well.

It's true, you know. But it's also funny in an ironic way.

As is losing your smartphone.

For instance, four years ago I left behind my then fairly new smartphone at St Pancras station on the concourse, and only realised my boo-boo when I got onto the train. I shrugged my shoulders and was relieved  that I hadn't stored any cruical information on the device. But when I narrated my situation to others - chatty fellow travellers and also my friends when I got home -I recieved looks of terror and even horror.

These reactions wern't out of sympathy that I'd lost my phone ( there was some of that, but it wasn't the prevalent emotion), but more the sort of reaction I'd expect to have gotten If I'd told them that I'd almost died or lost an appendage. I found this odd and quite disturbing.

I was also met with blank and quizzical looks when I genuinely said that if i'd have lost my phone , I wouldn't have lost much sleep. That's true, because I'm all too aware that most people ( if not all) whose numbers I have, are also in my email lists on various email accounts which originated long before my soujourn into smartphone land. If all else fails, I still have a good old fashioned paper and card diary (actually, there's more than one) to fall back on as well.

Oddly enough ( again) I got the phone back from St Pancras lost property ( amazingly, someone had handed it in, which DID make my jaw drop) after a perfucntory phone call explaining my situation. After all, smartphones aren't cheap to replace as a device, even using ebay.


Reading the above, maybe I'm wibbling about nothing really, because there are solutions available.
For instance, I could downgrade to an older handset, such as a nokia 3650 type. But then I wouldn't get full value of service from my network provider.That'd then mean no more clips of youtube, music on tap, emails...

Oh. The very things I've just said we're doing too much of.

We're fighting a losing, I'm fighting a losing battle. I spend two hours a day during my 'downtime' just idily tapping on the smartphone, checking emails and doing nothing of note, but burning new cellular tracks into my retina's in the process, whilst gurning occasionally. And now there's V.R. to contend with too.

I don't want least not yet. Not until someone convinces me that i need it more than I need lobster thermidor, caviar and a bottle of good wine to go with it.

I'd much rather have one of these, instead :-

I won't need to carry it around, it'll do one thing in it's own way, and I KNOW it'll be around long after five generations of my current phone will cease to do what they all do, in any shape or form. Problem solved.

Not quite.

But it's all part of my own quest to not become too sucked into the halo-effect of new technology and innovation.

Make no mistake, I LOVE technology and am always pleased when I read about and discover some new innovation somewhere. Even more so when I find it is serving a function or purpose which has a GENUINE need or problem that needs resolving/solving.

And that's the point. It's there to serve us, entertain us, help us and NOT enslaven us.

So as long as we can remember that, and remind ourselves of the boundaries between healthy useage and over-consumption ( a zombied out expression is one sign of needing a time-out) , we're going to be just fine.

Just one more thing..

My birthday's in August, in case anyone's interested in buying me a teasmade.

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