When do modern conveniences become modern inconveniences? I just spent the last 20 minutes syncing my online calendar to my old-fashioned appointment book when I really had intended to spend that time writing my blog. But this morning, realizing that the calendar in my phone (which is synchronized to my online calendar) was not correct, it dawned on me that I better straighten that out before I inadvertently create a schedule conflict. This makes sense to me because I always have my phone with me, where my appointment book is a little big to lug around. Nonetheless, I was talking to someone yesterday about how much time we spend updating, synchronizing, upgrading, servicing and troubleshooting all of these little helpers and it really got me to wondering – is this really helpful?
When I was young and my parents got their first digital clock, they needed me to set it for them every time they wanted to change the alarm. It seems incredibly simple to me now (it did then too) but for some reason they just didn’t feel comfortable doing it. In retrospect, maybe they were just trying to disperse their “to do items” and pretending they didn’t understand the technology was their way of doing that. I don’t have to pretend that I don’t understand half of the machines and functions of my modern gizmos, I honestly am at the mercy of the technical support systems that the various manufacturers have set-up for people like me. Just yesterday I needed to call on their assistance to help me fix a sudden problem with my email which prevented me from being able to send out any messages. It was a quick fix for the friendly, young man on the other end of the phone, but it took another half an hour out of my day – as I waited on hold listening to music and watching the clock.
Don’t get me wrong – I actually love all these gadgets, I happen to think they are pretty great, but when you get to the point when your dependency on them exceeds your ability to operate and maintain them independently – you have to wonder if they are serving their intended purpose in the best possible way. It takes a lot of time and energy and money to keep up these days. I do buy into the idea that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages; there are many ways technology does indeed make our lives easier. But I guess I am still working with mastering the machine, afterall “they are supposed to serve me” aren’t they? (I sure hope I don’t have that backwards!)