Monday, February 07, 2005

No numbers to fuss with.

I love technology. It's all around me. From the PDA in my pack, the cellphone in my pocket, to the iPod sitting on the desk next to me piping tunes into my head. I am a geek. Technology is a big part of my life, I check Slashdot multiple times a day, I talk tech with anyone who will listen, I have an RSS reader full of tech feeds.

And, I'm not alone, while I may be a little ahead of the curve than most people, technology is playing an increasing role in the lives of most everyone. Each day our country becomes more and more wired and more gadgets find their way into the hands of previously non-tech people. Apple recently surpassing the 10 million iPods sold mark is a good example.

While all this is well and good, sometimes our increasing reliance on technology starts to worry me. I remember back last fall when the hurricanes came through and the power was out for several hours, I felt so lost, so disconnected from everything. I couldn't just walk up to my computer and my always on cable modem to be instantly connected to the rest of the world. I had to read the newspaper to find out what was going on in the world for crying out loud!

I don't think I'm alone either. In fact, I know I'm not.

I got to thinking the other day about my cellphone. I use my cellphone a lot. In fact, like a lot of other college students and a lot of regular people. My cellphone is my only phone. I don't have a phone at my apartment, I find it redundant and a waste of money.

When I want to call someone, I simply flip open my phone, use the up and down arrows to navigate to their name, and press send. That's it, no numbers to fuss with, no numbers to remember, quick, easy, painless. I'm a quick draw too, give me 10 seconds and I can be connected with anyone in my phonebook.

No numbers to fuss with. That seems like such a blessing. I don't have to worry about remembering any numbers, they are all there stored on my cellphones SIM card.

A blessing, but one a wolf traveling in sheeps clothing, I postulate. What happens when my cell phone dies, gets stolen, what happens when I lose it, what happens when I break the screen like I did one day last fall while rock climbing one day at the park?

Well my friend, I'm shit outta luck. There are 34 numbers in my phone book. Some important that I call frequently, some not so important and less often called. If you took my phone away from me, I could probably recite from memory at most 5 of those numbers.

The really important ones, such as my parents home number, brother, sister, Mom's, Dad's cellphone numbers, I'm clueless without my phone. It's really my fault, I really should know these numbers just like I know my social security number. I know they should be written down. I know I should carry them in my wallet in case of emergency, but why should I, they are in my phone, just a few clicks away. Why crowd my already over crowded brain with phone numbers. This is the digital age, I have a device for that!

I don't think I'm alone either. I took a quick sample of my friends. All said that they didn't know some of the important numbers in their cell phones. I'm sure it's the same all across the country, all across the world. And you know what? It's only going to get worse.

As more devices come to market that make our lives 'easier and simpler', I believe that this is an increasing reality that we all face. As our lives get more hectic and time becomes more precious as it seems to each year. Our lives will increasingly depend on those little devices we carry with us.

How do we separate ourselves from our devices and stay complete, autonomous, functioning adults not ruled by the devices we carry and the critical information they store?

That's the question.

Mood: Jovial
Music: Northstar

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