It is amazing to think of the world in terms of technological advancements. Taking that a step further, place a narrow time frame on that advancement and consider what changes have been made permanently in your life, be they professional or personal, in the last ten years.
In my case, a decade ago, I did not have a cell phone. Now, not only do I have one, but I use it far more often to access the internet and take pictures than I do to have an actual telephone conversation. Communication is done primarily via text, email and my Snapchat and Facebook applications. I could go several days without hearing the voice of a loved one and yet still have “conversed” with them. Our lives have come down to the shorthand version of human connection. Not only that, but we have lost touch with what it means to have that contact, younger people especially.
Some will say that it’s a necessary evil. Lives today are so busy. Who has the time to stop and chat over the phone? I would argue that point. People are the same today as they were. There are still children and jobs, sports events and deadlines. What has changed is that we’ve gotten so used to the convenience of shooting off a quick text or email that we are content with not having to take the time to have more meaningful contact. This extends even in our own homes and with our immediate family. How many times have you seen a family eating at a restaurant, and every one of them, at some point, picks up their phone? It happens at home, as well. Or, try grocery shopping without needing to get around someone who is more engrossed in their text than their shopping list. The days of Mayberry are far behind us.
Professionally, some careers see only the upside of these changes. Certainly the presence of computers has been a great benefit in my job at the library when it comes to cataloging books, having a history of our patrons check-outs, interlibrary borrowing, and more. However, in recent years, we have seen a drop in our numbers due to the growing interest in ereaders. Nooks and Kindles have been the reason that we never see patrons that used to be regulars. We are still able to be of service to them by providing access to an online database of books they can borrow for free, but we don’t see the results of that in our stats the way we would if they were coming in to personally borrow a book.
I cannot be completely against the changes that technology has afforded me. That same cell phone that makes it too easy to avoid actual calls also makes it possible for me to avoid having to deal with an internet service provider that isn’t worth the money. Rather than pay for sketchy service, I can hook my phone up to my computer and get far better results. Family movie night is also improved upon. No longer is it necessary to drive into town to rent dvds. Now, we just sit down and flip through the selections on our Netflix account using our blu-ray player. Ah, the joys of Netflix, that’s a whole other subject.
What it comes down to is this. Professionally, I can do nothing about the changes that technology is making in my chosen field. Thankfully, if books in print ever become a thing of the past, it won’t be during my lifetime. Personally, I can do something to halt the negative aspects that technology has had on my life and my personal relationships with others . . . make the determination not to let it. We need to find a balance between reaping the benefits and perpetuating the disadvantages. I’m willing, are you?