Monday, January 10, 2011

On Progress (Or, Technology, how I love you so)

Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with technology because I rely on it about as much as I needed my mother when I was three, and when technology fails me, it brings out that three-year-old tantrum instinct I'd so well suppressed for over 40 years. But computer and application problems aside, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY.

First of all, technology feeds my passion for nostalgia by exaggerating the differences between then and now. I mean, how else would I mourn the loss of letter-writing if it weren't for word processors? Paradoxically, it is those exact processing programs that make it easier for me to write  type letters to my friends, which they can receive in the time it takes technology to deliver my letter to their email inbox.

Which brings me to email (so old hat already that we've dropped the hyphen between "e" and "mail" and made it one word functioning as noun, address, and verb all in one). Though I yearn for the days of receiving a handwritten letter in my real mailbox (which now only receives bills and even that trend is fading), I love how connected I am with friends all over the world. It is truly priceless.

But email was only the beginning. I started using email about 1995 and now love my Skype account even more. This again feeds my nostalgia, for when I was a youngster - back when Elvis Presley and John Lennon were still alive and before President Reagan was shot - speaking with a friend who lived more than thirty miles away constituted a long-distance phone call which cost MONEY. And spending money on phone calls was a big-ass deal. Now, with Skype, I can not only chat instantly with friends everywhere, but I can summon the spirit of Dick Tracy by seeing them in a live video chat and even share a glass of wine with them while we shoot the shinola...for free.

Now, I'm sure there are those of you out there saying, Get over it, Wendy. But you have to know that I am still amazed by the technology of landline telephones, so email and Skype go on my list of technological wonders of my time. I also like to think of myself as one who appreciates the beauty of humankind's ingenuity, and our desire to improve communication and to connect with each other is inspiring. Many complain that this new technology alienates us from socializing like we did in the good ole days, but I argue that it actually brings us closer together. And in a world where nations are still killing each other over religion and money, it's nice to know the human desire to connect with others still lives on. There are people in my life today who I never would have dreamed of seeing again if it hadn't been for technological progress, and I love having these people in my life.

So here's a toast to all the nameless inventors who have helped me preserve my relationships with distant friends and who've made it possible for me to renew old friendships I'd thought lost forever. You are my People of the Year!


  1. I'll admit, I have more friends now than I've ever had before because of technology--and some of them I've never met.

  2. I'm with you on this! My internet router died last weekend and I was without internet for three days. I was so miserable! I couldn't order shopping, or talk with friends, or play games, or find out things I needed to know.

    I feel like I'm living in the future and I love it!

  3. I miss handwritten letters too! I used to have several pen pals, but I just ran out of time to write the doggone letters...that and I somehow got on a prison inmate mailing list.

    I've seen Skype in action, but haven't tried it out yet. Really oughta.

  4. I appreciate technology too. The only thing that scares me about technology is that it will be the end of paperback books.