Friday, January 1, 2010

Does Technology Connect or Isolate Us?

A coworker and friend on Facebook and I chatted a few weeks ago about the love/hate relationship we have with technology. While we love the feeling of connection that the Internet and Facebook provides, we commented that we spend more time fertilizing each other’s crops on FB’s Farmville than we do having “face time.” Technology connects and isolates us all at once.
I use “texting” a lot. My husband cannot receive calls at work except to call his supervisor and ask to have Dave call me. Although they are not supposed to have their cell phones turned on while on the floor at Seattle Flight Service, per Lockheed Martin’s regulation, Dave leaves his on vibrate and responds to text messages. Until he began working day shifts those messages were the only connection that we had so I’m pretty familiar with texting.

My kids text me. When I am at work my situation is similar. I’m not supposed to be answering personal phone calls and the concrete school I work in is a bunker for cell signals so I understand them wanting to send me a text message if they have a question. Never-the-less I find myself getting irritated when they text me at times that they know I am off work. I know why they do it. It is easier to text a person with a brief question and get an answer without having to perform the “hi, how are you?” ritual that makes us civil human beings. They are too busy to actually talk to me. They don’t really want to know how I am just then. They don’t really want to share how they are either. I find that sad and wonder if I am the only mom/person who suffers from the technological disconnect? I am grateful for what snippets of information I receive about friends and family via email and texting, but what are we losing? Are we not losing the warmth of human contact, of looking into the eyes of a loved one or hearing their voice on the other end of a phone line?

In times gone by children climbed into a car or wagon and moved miles and miles away from family with only letters to connect them to parents and sometimes they never laid eyes on one another again so I guess that I’m grateful that Thomas Edison figured out the telephone, but sometimes I believe that technology as done as much to hurt as to help us. We must be wise in its use. That’s why one of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time actually talking to the people who mean a lot to me. I do not have to be too busy to do that. There has to be a way to simplify my life.


Grandma L said...

Times have changed so much. Remember when we spent hours just visiting each other in their homes. Adults would play card games or other games and the kids would run amok. Everybody had a good time and it didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Jo said...

I don't even know how to text, and I still feel ambivalent about technology. I love getting together with friends for a game of scrabble, canasta, pinochle, spades, dominoes, cribbage, or any other game. Games give you time to chat while playing (I never take the games too seriously). I miss letters. Several friends sent letters with their Christmas cards. It was fun hearing about their lives and their children.

Stephanie Frieze said...

In Greenfield, MO, before air conditioning, everyone sat on their porch and people walked around town visiting in the evenings.

In Prescott, AZ the town is still very focused on the town square and in the summer evenings there's something going on there every night with lots of people. I find that so charming. Too bad, Prescott is in AZ or I'd like to live there!

Kim Thompson said...

To answer your question both. A friend of mine had out of town relatives. The entire family went out to dinner. Granted, these relatives aren't able to come all that often, so it was a special family occasion. Half the group was playing video games on DS's and cell phones during the meal! Yikes! I hate that. I TREASURE meal time (whether at home and or out) and I want good food and good conversation! Is that asking too much?

On the other hand, I love Facebook. I've had the chance to chat, learn, and have fun with lots of folks I wouldn't be able to see because of my schedule/commitments. It's mind candy!

I guess I am conflicted!

Stephanie Frieze said...

Im conflicted, too, Kim. I love Facebook, too and in a funny way feel more connected to people I seldom see in the flesh--some in years. One thing I do not like are people who talk on the phone when they are checking out at the market. I think it's rude and if someone calls me when I'm checking out I tell them I can't talk and call them back when I'm walking to the car. It doesn't take much to be polite and say, "Hi, how are you?" to an over worked clerk.

Lorraine Hart said...

FB has been a great way to keep in touch with friends all over the place...but I do not game...I do like to send hearts and lotuses...and I'm never sure whether it worked or not..LOL!! No I is not teckneelogikull. I have sorta learned to text...and again, it's 'cos that's what my kids do...they text me from one room to the other!
If you'd told me just a few short years ago that I'd be doing all this stuff...I'd have laughed at you!! I regret the shortening of our written language....therefore tend to blither on too long!
I love the fact that a computer can take us anywhere and talk to just about anyone in the world who is online...but at the same time...I have my face in here, sometimes it seems like the day leaves me behind.
I refuse to give up the art of writing letters...even as my arthritic fingers hurt and are permanently stuck in the hold-the-pen mode. My friends and I who regularly write it "talking between the sheets"...LOL!
Nothing constantinople but change itself, eh?