Technology can short change some wonderful experiences

Our civilization has made some incredible advances technology-wise and there are many more yet to come. The power of an iPhone actually exceeds the firepower capacity of the computer on board the Voyager satellite launched so many years ago. Yet, we miss out on some wonderful things by being so connected. Walk with me down the garden path on this one.

I was thinking of a young seventh grade boy I used to be and the excitement of writing notes to young girls in class hoping that said girls would return the favor. We folded them so carefully and gave them our own sense of style. I had this heavy-duty crush on an 8th grade girl named Ginger and no, she was not the one on Gilligan’s Island, embodied in Tina Louise. While she had a 9th grade boyfriend, she was flattered by my crush and wrote notes to me and permitted me to do the same. She even had some of her friends write me as well. This was pretty heady stuff and very exciting for this young boy. Today, that would all be done by text and you would risk being ostracized if texts were routed to the wrong sort.

Also, the nervousness of asking girls out or just calling them for the first time. I remember many times rehearsing my words, hanging up several times before dialing and eventually having the words come out not as planned. I wanted to grab the words as they left my mouth, but it was too late. But, even beforehand, the discovery of whether someone liked you was interesting. I recall my friend Linda would be an ambassador for me and others as she helped discover if a feeling was somewhat mutual between a girl and me. I personally cannot imagine doing this via technology as I wanted this discovery process to be somewhat discreet. Again, I would hate to see my queries broadcast to the world. You would need an even thicker skin today, than when I was full of acne and flying hormones.

I think one of things I relished in was hanging out with best friends or playing some sort of ball, depending on the season – football, basketball, baseball, etc. We are friends to this day and when we last got together, the waitress could not believe we were still talking after three hours. Now, the central theme is hanging out and watching or playing against each other in an electronic game. Mind you, I love that my kids hang out up stairs with their friends and love to hear their laughter, the greatest sound any parent can hear. Yet, I feel conversation, ragging on each other, talking about dreams, sports teams, girls, etc. may get shortchanged in today’s time. It is different to me, which is why I likely don’t see all that is happening. However, the fact there is a gathering and fun is being had, is all that matters.

But, as we walk down the garden path, the biggest drawback is the incessant need to be connected to the electronic world. I have noted before that a communication consultant once told me we are too connected. This causes more stress than it alleviates. There are times I don’t want to hear music or see who emailed, texted or called. I would rather walk down the garden path and listen to the birds sing and squirrels rustle the leaves or smell the flowers and fauna. I want to catch the shadows and sunlight dancing through the trees giving an aura to the proceedings. I want to stop in my tracks by some combination of sights in the woods – an arching path into the deeper shadows with sunlight peaking through above.

Even when you are not in a garden and are walking the avenues, hearing sounds and seeing the sights is invigorating. And, one thing I noticed with technology playing a greater role, is you do not hear people whistling very much anymore. This may not be a surprise, but on occasion I will hum or whistle a tune while I am walking. The stimulus for the song can come from anywhere. But, I don’t hear many others so doing. I think that is a loss. I remember in the building where I first worked, a white-haired gentleman who was unmatched as a whistler. He loved doing it and others appreciated his passion and talent.

Perhaps, I am being overly nostalgic. Maybe I am wishing for spring after all of the snow we have had. For my Australian and other southern hemisphere friends, maybe you are craving a nice autumn day about now. I would love to hear some of your thoughts. What do you recall that brings you joy, that may not be as possible with today’s connectivity. I would love to hear from you.

10 thoughts on “Technology can short change some wonderful experiences

  1. a couple don’t even get to enjoy a meal together, they are both buried in their phones, and never seem to even make eye contact. A younger friend tells me their kids dating practices are ridiculous, no one goes on dates, no one asks another out, they just do meet ups, and may or may not spend time with the one they are interested in. I never could survive in this “hooked up” world.

    • Barney, this is an excellent example. No conversation, no eye contact. Often, I say hello to people or start conversations based on some observation. While it surprises some people at first, they eventually let their guard down and smile or say thanks. I encourage my children to do this, although they seem reticent at times. This gets back to the need to be civil. It is hard to be civil with your nose in a device.
      Thanks for your comments. BTG

  2. last week someone asked me what time it was, and i peered out the window, looked at the sun and said, ‘four thirty.’ they checked someone else’s watch, and it was four thirty on the dot!

    people are too dependent on gadgets and should not be so removed from basic awareness of the rhythms of our planet. which way is north? the sun is setting, so west must be in that direction – instead they rely on gps more and more.

    the same applies to keeping our brains strong by adding a row of numbers instead of using a calculator!

    more people should consider cutting off the television and having a real visit with others! there’s too much ‘existing’ and not enough interaction…

    those electronic devices enhance our lives, but we should not be too dependent on them!



    • Z, you hit upon two items that are dear to my heart as well. I find that using the GPS prevents me from learning the geography of a new city and how to get around. It does that to others as well. Sometimes it is good to get lost in a new place and find your way out.

      As for the calculators, I am a strong advocate for not letting kids take tests with them. In fact, when I balance my checking account, I always do the arithmetic in my head to stay fresh. If you want to get scared, watch a cashier try to give you correct change on a cash transaction.

      Thanks for your comments. I smiled while reading them. All the best.

  3. I am so glad that as a child my greatest entertaiment consisted of books and playing outside. My kids complain of boredom, even when there is constant stimulation. I am SO ready for spring and waterfall hunting, because when we escape to the woods for a hike, my children are all shining eyes and boundless energy. It’s so nice to unplug once in a while.

  4. Things change. They always have. They always will. It is still possible for individuals to IM privately (except of course, for the lurking NSA spies, but…) And perhaps it’s a good thing that kids are meeting up more in groups now than before. I also heard a surprising statistic the other day that I haven’t yet verified…unplanned teen pregnancies are down! I’m sure kids still experience the same fears and anxieties that we did in approaching each other. There’s nothing worse than hitting the “send” button and then realizing that what you just wrote could be misinterpreted on the other end but once it’s gone, there’s no going back…just like in those awkward phone conversations of yore. And perhaps it takes a certain degree of maturity to recognize how important ambient sound is. We all have the option of turning off our devices. I do chuckle at new parents who digital record every baby BM, nap, burp, and hiccup. 😉

    • Linda, you are offering judicious counsel, updated for current technologies. I remember when faxes first came out and people’s expectations on response accelerated to the same day. Now, with IM, text and email, the expectation for response is immediate. In my business, there are a lot of “it depends” answers, where more information is needed to form an opinion.

      I agree there is more socialization going on via the networks, but are the conversations more superficial? I equate that to the local news programs, where outside of the weather and crime, no one is covering anything of substance. Even when they tell you they are on a later news show, they really aren’t.

      As for the teen pregnancies, a lot of that is due to birth control tools being more widespread. The sex is occurring at a more rampant rate, yet more protection is used. The exception to this is in poorer communities, where affording birth control is an issue. Thanks for your great comments. BTG

  5. When I was a kid we used to ride our bikes all weekend and as a special treat would go to the shops and buy 20 cents worth of lollies. We used to play in phone booths (none of them anymore) and just hang out together, as in face to face in the presence of one another. With technology the value of our information has decreased. With social media any one of your friends can learn what is happening in your life and the inclination to meet and catch up is diminished. I wonder if technology also diminishes our resilience. How easy is it to hide behind a screen and not put yourself out there.

    In the land Downunder we are reaching the end of summer. I am yearning for it to continue, but having said that, I live in a city which has not experienced the extreme summer heat that some have had. This is the best summer Sydney has had for years.

    • Thanks Judy. I remember riding my bike to the drugstore for a cherry cola with real cherries in it. This was before they put it in a can. Diminished resilience is a great term. We can hide behind screens, actually choosing to only communicate with some via that mechanism. As I mentioned to Linda in response to her wonderful comments, more communication is superficial and less deep. Have a great rest of your summer. BTG

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