My generation is comprised of folks who remember life without much technology. Sometimes we joke around about it.
My girlfriends and I laugh about how our parents used to make us get off the telephone in the evening and on weekends. We spent all day together at school, but still found things to talk about at night. I remember abusing my “phone privileges” and having my Princess-style phone removed from my bedroom for a week. It still stands out in my mind as one of the longest weeks of my life.
Just the other day I was telling someone that I commuted 45 miles to attend law school. For the most part, my classes were in the evening — 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. During a portion of the four-year program, I was pregnant. No, I did not have a cell phone. Today, I don’t walk across the street without my cell phone. Well, Blackberry, actually. I have a personal Blackberry. And one that I use solely for business. I wouldn’t dream of driving 45 miles without taking along my Blackberry.
While an undergraduate, my roommate and I spent a lot of time in the computer lab — running Fortran on punch cards that were processed through a mainframe. We had to “batch” our cards in a particular fashion and put them in a bin. Periodically, a technician would emerge, gather up the cards, run the programs and then generate a report detailing how efficiently the programs ran. Usually, we received an error report. It was printed on wide green and white bar paper. I haven’t seen that type of paper in many years.
Later, when I returned to school to complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, I learned Lotus 123, Peachtree, and WordPerfect. The computer lab I haunted in those days was stocked with Leading Edge dual floppy computers. In 1988, I bought one so that I could work at home. I still have it packed away in a closet. I also purchased a monochrome monitor and Epson “letter quality” printer. I recall being so excited because my printer had two fonts: Times and arial. Life got even better when I discovered a shareware program that enabled me to run programs from a menu rather than DOS prompts. Yes, that was before Windows. I paid $1,800 for the computer, monitor and printer.
But I was completely “over the moon” the day that a law school classmate agreed to come to my house and help me install a modem. 2400 baud. Dial-up, of course. I was freed from the law library and able to perform legal research at home at night while my oldest child (who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday) slept and my husband was at work.
It all seems like so many lifetimes ago.
Do you ever wonder what impact technology is having upon your life or the lives of your family members? Do you ever spend time recalling what your life was like before you had a cell phone, Blackberry or iPhone, desktop computer(s) in your home, laptop, portable DVD player(s) (do you have one in your car?), television(s) broadcasting hundreds of channels in every room of your house? Do you remember communicating with other human beings using a medium other than email?
Do you remember life without the Internet? Do you remember life without blogs?
Do you ever totally disconnect from any and all forms of technology?
Do you ponder what impact being constantly connected to technology in one form or another and absorbing so much information day after day is having upon your psychological and physical health and well-being?
In the next five installments of this series, I will explore those questions and more. In preparation, I’m giving you an assignment: During the coming week, pay attention to the types of and ways in which you utilize technology throughout the day. Be conscious of your habits as they relate to technology, and when you utilize a device, think about a time in your life when you did not have access to it. For instance, when you use your cell phone, think about what your life was like before you owned a cell phone or, perhaps, during your early days of cell phone ownership. What type of phone did you initially own and did you use it the same way and as extensively as you use your cell phone today? How was your life different in those days? Do you think that your quality of life has improved or decreased in relationship to technology? And, of course, contemplate how you write now as opposed to how you wrote during other time periods in your life. What has changed? What impact has technology had upon your writing? Do you think that you are a better writer now?
Click here to read Part Two.