Caught in a technology trap
I had the most interesting dream recently. It was a reality check on how I function in a high-tech world.
Most of the time, I decry my lack of skill in using the bells and whistles provided by computers, iPhones and gizmos on my television. My dream alerted me to the scary fact that, indeed, I have forgotten how to operate in a hands-on world. Think through this scenario and see how well you do.
You find yourself in a place where you are not sure of your location. Sounds like a small problem, doesn’t it, with all the global positioning tools in cars and phones? But, remember, this mystery is about navigating on your own without all of these conveniences. You smile and say, ‘I would just call my closest friends for help.’ Whoops, no cell phone, no telephone numbers.
As I lay there awaking from my dream, I ran through the telephone numbers I really knew. I was surprised at how few I could recall. Even smaller was the list of people I could expect to be on the other end of the line when I rang. On my cell phone, I have a ‘favorites keypad’ and so I don’t need to remember those numbers. Well, there is always the phone book, but, alas, cell phones are not listed there.
If I got confused or in a disastrous situation, how would I make contact? All I needed was one contact person who is always there and always picks up the phone. I became aware that I did not even know the phone number of this contact person. I had to look it up and write it on a piece of paper. Now, that is an amazing condition in this high-tech, always-connected world.
You might declare that you would never be out of range of those people and places you know and trust. But, the more I become comfortable with ‘always-connected’ high-tech capacity, the less I pay attention to addresses, names, numbers and schedules. I figure, why clutter my head? I can always look it up from anywhere. So, I tend to travel farther and farther from my home base without conscious contact information.
I take off out the door of a hotel in a strange place and do not make a mental record of my path. I sit in vehicles and think of things other than the route I am on. I am afraid I do not even know the names of my medicines without looking in my phone for the listing. I can’t tell you what I am doing in a week without checking my electronic calendar. I realize that often when my kids tell me where they going, I only pay partial attention, thinking wherever they are, I can reach them on their cell phones. And I did not even know my son’s cell phone number until I started this exercise. If my purse got snatched, I would be in big trouble because I would lose my beloved iPhone.
All this has made me wonder if we, as a society, have become too technology-dependent to carry out basic human chores. Remember how debilitating it was when the winter ice storms hit the cell phone towers in Southern Indiana a few years ago?
I don’t think tattooing connect numbers on my body would help. People can always change their e-mail address or cell phone number. I asked several friends what they do in emergencies, and I received some good answers: Use I.C.E. as a phone prompt in case of emergency ‘ hmm ‘ this again demands a functioning mobile phone; keep a paper copy of emergency contacts in your purse, pocket or car glove box. This strategy has its own limitations.
Each of us must evaluate what to keep in our heads and what to store somewhere else to be retrieved when needed. Then, the question is how do we store our working information? Perhaps this is the new get-rich-quick product: a number holder that fits close to your skin and can be adjusted at will. Would you please get to work on that invention?