Tuesday, June 28, 2011

De-Teching and Disposable Technology

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for progress and improvement, but for an intended end, not just progress and improvement for the sake of progress and improvement. I love many advances in technology. I remember when I lived 5 hours from home, a long, long time ago when cell phones weren't big and neither was the internet. It was hard, I missed my family. I called home once a week, I felt that I missed out on so much that went on while I was away. Now I live 3,000 miles away, but the gap seems much smaller from those days of yester yore when I lived only five hours away. Blogs, Skype, Facebook, free nights and weekends, unlimited long distance calls, really make my world seem so much smaller. I look at the way the church has embraced the dawn of the new day and really effectively used technology to reach out to members and non-members alike (I don’t really like those terms, but I haven’t come up with anything better, yet). Then I see parents at the store with kids iPod in ears, cell phone in hand texting away – zero human to human without the use of an electronic device contact taking place. Maybe if the iPod and the phone stay home some great conversation could take place. Really what does a teen need with a phone at all times? What could be so important?

Then I think of myself sitting on the couch with my boyfriend who I don’t get to spend enough time with anyway both of us on our phones, or one of us on a phone and the other on the computer. And heaven forbid we should speak and actually interrupt whatever important thing the other person must me doing. What gives? I guess its not all technology’s fault. I mean I can put the phone down, and literally that is what I intend to do. But its so easy. With so much so accessible, I’m more connected to the web then the people right next to me. I use my cell phone as an excuse not to make conversation in line at a store, on the elevator, walking to class, pretending to check very important email, when I don’t even have any signal. Its become a safety blanket, justification, excuse, and rationalization.

All this from the girl who didn’t get a cell phone until she was in the later part of her mid-twenties because she didn’t always want to be so accessible to the world and even then after she first got it would turn it off or leave it at home, on purpose a lot of the time.

I firmly believe technology is an addiction. Try leaving your phone at home – you’re panic stricken, anxiety levels rise, you feel out of sorts, you gotta have your phone, and when you’re reunited, what welcomed relief! What does that sound like to you? A junkie looking for her next fix? Heck, just try turning it off for awhile. How long did you last? See what I’m talking about? Scary huh?! I used to laugh when people would say they were addicted to Facebook. Now, I kind of get it. Again, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Facebook, I love that I can keep connected to people, but if Facebook is the connection there’s something wrong.

So the other day I got engaged, my announcement to the world, a Facebook post. I called my family, well my parents, because they don’t have Facebook, but for the rest of you I let you find out on Facebook, I could have called or even sent an email, but I didn’t I made a post. The sad thing is even if I wanted to call; I probably don’t have most of your numbers or addresses. Now granted, not all of you will want to hear from me personally or were even offended by a Facebook announcement and I’m not offended when I don’t get personal notification. I just think that at least for me, I’ve replaced human touch with electronic stuff.

So I’m an addict I’ll admit it, I’m not disciplined enough to just put it down and go cold turkey, so I’m de-teching. I’m doing away with the smart phone and just going back to why I got a cell phone in the first place, emergencies and talking to friends and family far away. I’m going to start sending cards and letters, not type written, but personal. I’m kinda old fashion and traditional anyway.

Not only is there human contact capital cost associated with technology, but then there is the actual cost. My smart phone costs me a little over $100 a month, not bad, (crazy how $100 has become chump change) but then you think that’s almost $1300 a year. $1300!!!!!! Oh there are so many things that I could do with $1300 that would be so much more valuable than what I do with my smart phone. So even if I pare it down to like $60 a month, that’s still a whopping $720 a year. So maybe we become a one cell phone house and one for emergencies. I can use the soon-to-be hubbies phone for his free nights and weekends and then use my phone only for emergencies and then we could pare that $720 a year down even more. That’s assuming I could get him to agree to that. I guess the other option is getting a land line, but I’m not sure how economical those things are now days or maybe Vonage or something of the sort around $360 a year, not bad and a little more each month for a pay as you go cell phone. Way better than $1300 that’s almost a $1000, that’s a fun vacation or money for a rainy day. In five years that’s close to $5000, that’s almost as much as I have ever paid for a car!

Then today I discovered eBooks through Google, technically I discovered them on Sunday (see explanation below), but today I really saw what eBooks was all about. Although, I’m quite convinced that Google is planning to take over the world (I’m not sure if it is a sinister plan or not), they do have some pretty awesome stuff. Lots and lots of free books, classics even that no one reads any more. All this wonderful stuff all at my finger tips, I can’t give up my phone now?! It is really helpful, I mean just this Sunday I was preparing my lesson for Primary and I meant to grab my copy of Jesus the Christ on the way out the door, but I forgot. Halfway through sacrament I remembered that I forgot. No problem, I whipped out the phone and through eBooks downloaded it for free. But I’m not going to use that as a crutch to hold onto my smart phone. So I thought instead of my phone I’ll just get an eReader of sorts a Kindle or Nook or something. I’d rather have books, paper ones even, the ones I can mark and hold and smell. The ones where I can remember where I read something by the way it looked on the page and how I had marked it. But the convenience factor of having an entire library a lot of it free at my finger tips is so very tempting.

That takes me to the next part, the disposable technology. So last year I bought my first cell phone that did more than just make calls and send texts, it retailed at like $500, but because I was due for an upgrade I only paid $150. Only a few months later, it was obsolete. It had just come out and within a couple of months a new 4G phone came out. I can’t even get accessories for my current phone. To me $150 was a chunk of change and $500 was beyond justification and but for the discounted price available via upgrade was the only reason I did. But it wasn’t so much the money, but the knowledge that I was forking out money for something that wouldn’t last. Although I had no idea that its life would only be months old. If technology is going to be disposable then it should be sold at disposable prices. I know that a lot of money goes into these developments and a lot of smart people spend a lot of time and energy, but still it is hard for me to want to fork out a good chunk of money for something that I know isn’t going to last and in a short while will need to be upgraded anyway because changes in technology make it not as useful and cumbersome. I wouldn’t mind putting $500 down for something that I new would last and I didn’t have the fear of it becoming obsolete shortly after my purchase. So if I get the latest and greatest Nook that’s $249. That’s $20.75 a month, if I only read the free books. I could easily spend that much a month on paper books. But if the thing will last 5 years that’s only $4.15 a month, if I only read the free books, but at $4.15 a month I can fork out some money and pay for some books. With the Nook I can highlight and take notes, although not quite like actually having the book in my hand, but I can have a whole lot more books in my hand at once and on demand. I like that as long as there isn’t a monthly service plan. I’m not sure how realistic my 5 year lifespan is for the Nook or that the thing will still be compatible and functional with other technology… That is my dilemma and why I’m so hesitant to make technology purchases. Take my laptop. I’ve only had the thing for three years and the screen is kaput, the rest of it still works fine although I’m sure there are things that work finer, it does what I need it to do. I really need to replace it, but just that fear of being obsolete freezes my purchase power.

So now I’ve done it. I’ve used technology to help you waste however long it took you to read this post, time that you will never get back… But think about it… Maybe I’m wrong… But maybe I’m not so far off base…


Jeff said...

I think the nook is very likely to last 5 years. Even if they come out with new technology that makes it obsolete, that doesn't mean you have to stop using it. Most technology is starting to become more standardized. Most things use USB now, and USB will be around a long time. (Even if better things come out, you'll still be able to buy adapters that will allow you to use USB)

You could also cancel your cell phone service and just use your phone as an e-reader.

Whatever you do, I definitely support interacting with real people. When this life is over we'll have to leave all our gadgets behind but we get to take our relationships with us.

Melissa said...

Oh you are so smart! If I could use my phone as an eReader then I wouldn't even need to buy a Nook even after I go back to my regular phone! This sounds like a good plan.

Josie said...

So several months ago, Bart and I went out on a date (oh man it's been several months!) and out to dinner. While waiting for our table, we observed 21 out of the 24 people that were also waiting for their tables were on smartphones or ipods. Like, they all came with family or friends, but instead of talking to each other they were all on facebook or playing games or whatever. Bart and I were like "that's so sad!" Well in February when I washed my phone in the washing machine, we opted to upgrade to iphones and now we TOTALLY do the same thing listed above way more than we probably realize. Sitting in the family room after dinner just plugged in...and it's driving me crazy (and I'm just as guilty of it as bart) I totally support what you're trying to say here, just so long as you don't bag fb or your blog bc I like it not feeling like you're a million worlds away :)

Melissa said...

I'm not adverse to technology to the extent that it brings people together but when it drives us apart that's when I have issues. So I won't give up Facebook or my blog as long as it keeps me connected. I just need to be smarter about how I use it and make sure I don't lose the real connections.

So just today I was thinking we totally need to be neighbors. Somehow or someway, I totally think it could happen. It really wasn't very fair to throw us together only to have us torn apart....

The Muries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Muries said...

I like the idea of skimming down on tech stuff. Sadly the other night I walked down stairs to ask my bro in law if he wanted to watch a movie with Dave he says maybe have Dave text me when he is ready. Dude there are 12, yes I have counted a million times while carrying the laundry basket up and down, stairs and maybe 20 steps to your room from there but ok a text it is. We have the most basic phones, and I love it. We were a one cell phone family until said bro in law fired an employee and it cost him too much to cancel the phone so he gave it to me. Seriously we rarely ever have both of them with us. We do have the land line but that is because I am home all the time, and you can't get our internet without the phone, but our phone has all the free long distance, call waiting, caller id, voice mail ect. cheaper then the cell monthly fee. The other thing I like is that my kids are learning they don't need a cell phone to survive, even when their cousins try to convince them otherwise. (really does my 8 year old niece need a phone? yet she has one and is always on it! what is that???) Anyhow there is my whole thought. Oh wait I have more so I guess it wasn't the whole thought you should check out thriftbooks.com for cheap books then you can have them and not spend the book store price. Ok now I am done. :)