Have you ever tried to imagine life without a smart phone? The other day, I needed something. The stores I needed to go to are either closed, too far away or the item I want is out of stock. So, I started searching online, with my so-called “phone”. I found what I needed in ten minutes and soon it was being processed for delivery to my front door. I never got out of bed.
A New Day Dawning
Just before that, I was watching the sunrise through the windows. Silently, I was thinking about how are those of us in the creative arts going to continue? Last year, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I had a successful private show where I sold several paintings in one afternoon! How will I do this now? When can artists, like myself, start showing again?
As the sun moved more over the horizon, I tried to imagine life without technology. I am old enough to remember the rotary phone and the Rolodex, so yes, I could imagine it. Oddly enough, I could not remember it. If someone were to ask me to imagine a world without smart-phones, I could.
As I laid there watching the day get brighter, I realized that, like many of us, I have sailed so far into the ocean of technology, that imagining was no problem, I just plain forgot what it was like!
Dude, You can Do This! Where’s my Phone?
What did I do all day before checking my email or Facebook every ten minutes? Thirty years ago, how did I manage to drive all the way across the country without a phone for miles? Why now today, will I not leave the house to go grocery shopping without my “devices”?
Wait a minute … I am from the twentieth century! I can DO THIS! Without panicking, I can figure out how to live without a constant resource in the palm of my hand! I can live without being pre-occupied by instant news, social media, metrics, algorithms, notifications, or whatever it is we all do all the time now. Somehow I have trained the seventies and eighties right out of me. Within me rose a renewed sense of ironic yet forward-thinking purpose. … I must re-learn my old ways!
Nice try. No matter what I do anymore, it seems to involve some form of technology. So then, there must be some sort of balance. Perhaps, that is the part I forgot. Maybe we all have.
What Road Are We On?
I remember when the internet was called the “information super-highway”. The vision was one where our tasks would become easier to manage and take much less time to accomplish errands or work projects. We would be organized and be free as never before. The promise was that we would have more time enjoying our free time since our responsibilities would take just moments to finish.
Consider, email. No more writing by hand, searching for stamps, standing in line at the post office after driving across town to get there. Nice! But, instead of cherishing our newly acquired “free time”, we decided to fill it up with doing more. Twice as much time, twice more productive! So, instead of welcoming a world of ease and free time, we ushered ourselves into the age of multi-tasking. Also, I never regularly purchased reams of paper until we became a “paperless society”.
Stolen Moments, Not What I Had in Mind
Is being constantly informed really a good thing? I think it depends on what information is being received. Is what I am bombarded with daily truly important or did it become important because it just slid into my frame of reference?
This is where I ask myself if I can remember life before so much technology at my fingertips. I wonder how much is me being “concerned” with what is in front of me versus how much is me having my attention stolen?
That’s a question I would love to ask my younger self. Some decades ago, I was driving through the center of New Mexico. The windows were down, and it was raining while the sun was shining. The thrill of life, the beauty of everything I saw was all around and I was literally soaking it up. I had no compulsion to record the moment or feel the need to update my status or check in anywhere. There was no way of knowing where I was on a moving map. I only knew I was in the middle of “nowhere” and it was gorgeous. My AM radio was not receiving stations, and I had no tape player. I just was “there”, physically, mentally, emotionally.
I Am From My Future!
If I, as my present self, were watching my younger self from the passenger seat, I could ask myself a question, “Where’s the nearest options for food, how do we get there, and how long will it take, what does the menu look like? Also, where is the motel and how much will it cost, what does it look like, where is it exactly, what have other people said about it, where’s the gas station, how close is it to the highway, what is the weather like when we get there, when does the sun rise, what is on tv tonight, who won the game, did your friend ever get back to you, are you going to call them right now, is there any traffic ahead, how much money do you have, did you pay the gas bill before you left, what’s the temperature right now?
I could only imagine my younger self, staring ahead for a moment with glints of sun in my eyes and in my hair, the wind swirling all around from the open windows at highway speed.
I’d probably turn to my future self and say after a long pause, …,