I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love having it but I also hate that I’ve become a slave to it. There are certain technological advancements I find it hard to live without. I love my TV. I love that there are a bazillion channels I can choose from. When none of the programming on TV appeals to me, I love that I can rely on Amazon and Netflix to entertain me. I find all of these technological advancements a luxury but they’ve also become a necessity.
People like routine and while we’re open to change, some things have become such a big part of our lives that living without them leaves us feeling flustered and naked. We’re accustomed to a certain way of going about our day. When that routine is disrupted by abrupt technological glitches, we panic. Its embarrassing behavior but we all understand why we act the way that we do when our technology is no longer easily accessible or has decided to act up.
I’ll never forget the time I called DirecTV to move with me. It was a horrible experience. I gave DirecTV two weeks’ notice and set a date and time for them to come and do my installation. They never showed. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor in my new apartment, the sun was setting and the natural light I had been relying on all day was fading. I let the sun set until I was sitting in darkness. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had been proactive. I had followed up. Where was DirecTV? Like a lost child in the woods, I sat on my floor waiting for the cable man to come and save me.
I felt disconnected from the world. Every day I waited for DirecTV to show up was like waiting for a flaky guy who never keeps his promises to come and pick me up for a date that’s never going to happen. My hands were tied and I missed surfing my TV guide looking for appealing programming. I can be creative and find other ways to spend my time, but I didn’t want to. I wanted my technology and I wanted it now.
As much as we find ourselves grumbling and complaining about technology while muttering its inconveniences beneath our breath, we have to accept that we’ve allowed ourselves to be at its mercy. The most volatile and fickle relationship we probably have, we’re best friends when all is copasetic and enemies when it doesn’t respond to our needs. As soon as an issue arises, we don’t want to hear about it. We have absolutely no patience and are beyond reluctant to spend our precious time trying to find a solution.
At the end of the day, what does our unpredictable yet predictable relationship with technology say about us? I believe in surrounding myself with people who bring out the best in me, does technology really do that? Can I say that I like the person I am when technology and I are on a break? How about when we’re not on a break.
My technological torture doesn’t just affect my TV viewing habits, but it also changes the way I interact with others. No longer picking up the phone to call, everyone’s default seems to be texting. I’m not the biggest fan of texting. I believe text messages are for short conversations, like “what time do you want to meet up” or “I’m running late.” Text messaging is not for conversations. If I wanted to type on a keyboard, I’d send you an email, not a text. My pointer finger may be small but it still makes more mistakes than I’d like it to. Maybe my pointer finger wants a time-out? I should be glad it doesn’t have a mind of its own because if it did, it’d be going on strike.
I once had this friend who ALWAYS texted me. One day we were both sitting at home watching TV texting one another when I picked up the phone to give her a call. She didn’t answer. When I sent her a text saying, “call me,” she said, “nah, let’s text.”
This mindset also crosses over to email. At my previous job people used to email one another to “pass the buck” and rid themselves of the extra responsibility. I called it “hot potato.” Instead of taking the time to call me—which probably would have only been a five to ten minute conversation—people insisted on emailing. They liked email because it allowed them to “cover their ass” because everything was in writing. Every day I felt like I was a lawyer in court trying to outsmart my audience and dodge literal bullets.
I know deferring to email and text does not bring out the best in me. While both serve a purpose, I don’t know how I feel about not being able to choose which form of communication I can engage in. It also doesn’t feel like I’m given the opportunity to compromise either. The decision seems to be already made and while it’s not done with malicious intent, it’s frustrating when I know a phone call would be so much more efficient. Not to mention the fact that it would address the miscommunication that unfortunately occurs when we text or email one another.
How many times have you read an email from someone and put a nasty tone behind it? Of those instances, how many times were you wrong about the other person’s tone? They weren’t being nasty at all. If given the chance to hear someone’s voice, there would be no room for interpretation. You would have far less misunderstandings and need to use less emoticons to ensure the other person understood how truly happy you were to hear from them.
So, does technology bring out the best in me? Yes and no. It’s like a friend who doesn’t respect your boundaries. While you long to create space, distancing yourself can seem somewhat cruel, but sometimes in the end, you have to decide to do what’s best for you.