Don't get me wrong, technology is a wonderful thing - I can't imagine my life without my computer, the internet, e-mail, voice mail, online shopping and all the things that can make one's life more productive and easier, less stressful. But in the midst of all this technology, we've cut ourselves off from the world and other people. We interact with the world through a monitor and keyboard, sometimes using Skype to actually see any person you want to speak to around the world. I am addicted to technology, not surprising for someone who worked in Information Technology for many years, but still not a good thing.
We are reaching out in record numbers to people we've never met before. eHarmony, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Red Room - all used in an attempt to connect with other like-minded people. We have love affairs with our computers. Over the holidays, I didn't have daily access to the Internet. And it just about drove me nuts - I wanted the contact with others that I have come to appreciate as a member of various social networking sites. My family thought this was kind of amusing, no doubt.
I just wanted to have a computer around me, sort of like a wiry, cold security blanket. OMG, I was out of touch! I just wanted to touch a computer, caress the damn thing. I just wanted to hang out in a computer store. And that's when I realized it - I am a technology junkie.
My fix is plugged into the wall and I plug into my laptop. I need to check my e-mails, my site traffic stats for the previous day, network with other people and write. Now I really do need to write and my handwriting is atrociously bad. But I need to limit my time on the social networking sites.
I am an avid Facebooker. I have "met" so many wonderful people that I look forward to "chatting" with them on a regular basis. It's also a support system - like today when I couldn't get a word out to save my life. Someone from Facebook helped me with my problem and off to the races I went. Perfect. Fulfills a need.
But when you're sitting there and checking for email every three minutes, there's a problem. And if you're sitting there all day, without moving your backside out of your chair for some much needed exercise, technology has created another species of couch potato, instead of camping out in front of your TV, you're camping out in front of your computer.
Writing, in general, has cut down my day-to-day access to flesh and blood people that I can see, feel and speak to. Not that I feel up the people I see :). It's so easy to do - you don't even need to go out to get groceries, just shop over the Internet and have it delivered. You don't even have to speak to the delivery guy, just have him drop it off at the door or with the concierge.
And the kids growing up with all this technology are addicted to it too. When was the last time you saw kids playing in a playground? I honestly can't remember. It might have been three or four years ago. Not including organized sports, etc. What happened to swinging on the swing sets? What happened to tag? What happened to blind man's bluff or red rover? Or hide and seek? Kids are plugged into technology to the point that six year olds are coming down with carpel tunnel syndrome. SIX!
And the thing I really, REALLY don't understand? Parents give their kids a computer as a gift and then don't monitor their computer usage. There are all sorts of sick perverts crawling the Internet "chatting" with YOUR children. I don't have kids, but if I did, the computer would be set up in the dining room or living room where I could see exactly what they were doing. They're kids. They need to have someone looking after their best interests, not left to the pedophiles trolling the internet like fishing trawlers.
Aside from that, I make a point to exercise daily, to at least try to get out and see real people on a daily basis, I have writing groups that I attend and I learn more about writing. I won't use the words "to hone my craft" - I'm sorry but it sounds like a difficult knitting project or something really pretentious. If I ever refer to writing as "my craft" please shoot me. (No don't shoot me, but you can tell me how ludicrous I sound - all I would need would be a pashmina draped artfully around my neck to complete the image, wear really heavy makeup and act weird - ugh!) I write ergo I am a writer. Not a crafter.
Sorry, that got a little off-topic. Pet peeve of mine.
Regardless, I need to ensure that I turn off my laptop and do something else. Yes, I can always find interesting things on the Net and interesting things about my Macbook to play with (I love Garage Band and iWeb). But that doesn't involve other people. I need physical/verbal contact with other human beings who sit at a table with me, walk down the street with me, go to the movies/shopping with me.
No one is an island, but damn, we're working hard on making that saying irrelevant. We need to take steps away from all the technology competing for attention in our lives and just BE. Be with your friends, your lovers, your families, your co-workers, the cashier at the store, whoever. And maybe then we won't be so separated from our humanity, which sometimes seems to hold us back so much. If only we could have computer-like efficiency. But we don't. We are human.
Not cybernetic organisms jacked into ethernet cable.