When Tech is No Longer Exciting

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I was born in 1990. My entire childhood and adolescence was defined by this idea that, every six months to a year, something new and absolutely mind-blowing would enter my universe.

A computer

A color monitor

A color printer

Email

A digital camera

A pager

CD’s

DVD’s

Instant messenger

Dial-up internet

USB drives

Cell phones

Laptops

Flat-screen computer monitors

Palm-pilots

Flip phones

DSL internet

Cell phones that takes pictures

Blogs

Youtube

iPods

Digital music

Facebook

Kindle ebooks

The smartphone.

Since this is already an astonishingly long list, I’ll stop there. But look it over. All the items are things that are now so commonplace that nearly everyone uses them (or an updated version of them).

However.

 

It’s been a really long time since anything has given me that awed, the-world-will-never-be-the-same feeling. In fact, the last time I remember feeling it was ten years ago, when my brother Matt bought his first smartphone.

Since then, we’ve had a smattering of new things that made small splashes. The iPad came out in 2010, and was pretty hyped up, but now they’re mostly used as child-entertainers and small-business-cash-registers. I first got Instagram in 2012, and it’s gone on to become almost as well-populated as Facebook. The Apple watch was sort-of cool, and some people bought it.

And we’ve gotten lots of big promises that never really delivered. Things like Google glass, and VR, and self-driving cars.

But I feel like the entire attitude surrounding tech has changed in the last 10 years. Instead of tech being new, exciting, and always changing into something we could never imagine, tech has become scary.

We’re afraid that smart phones, which have now lived comfortably in our lives for ten years, are destroying a generation.

We’ve got more smart devices, from crock-pots and light bulbs that we can turn on with our phones, to Amazon Alexa. But with more smart devices comes increasing privacy concerns, and fears about all the new ways we’re potentially vulnerable to hackers.

And then, of course, there’s the whole Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. And I feel like everyone just sort of wishes they could quietly leave tech behind for a while.

But we can’t. Not really.

Technology has become our abusive husband that we can’t leave, because we’d have nowhere else to go.

My basic thought is that in the last 6-10 years, technology has stopped giving us new exciting things and has instead permeated our lives, becoming more scary than exciting. But even though this is the general attitude I observe, I’ve looked for articles on the subject and can’t find any. Any such articles, as well as your personal experience/ideas, would be welcome.

This has been ABC post 29, my very last day of the April Blogging Challenge. Tomorrow, Mom will close out this month.

 

 

 

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8 responses to “When Tech is No Longer Exciting

  1. First of all, I think it’s your perspective that has changed–not tech. All that new tech stuff was cool and exciting because of the age you were. Now that you are more mature and looking at it from different directions, you see past the glitter and into the “uh-oh”. Sort of like smashing atoms was incredible when it was discovered–oh the potential!! But then we realized the destruction that could potentially come with it,and also the destructiveness when turned to destructive purposes.

    Let me tell you my perspective, since I was already your age when you were born. In the 70s, one of the men I babysat for got an Audi, and he thought it was the COOLEST thing because it had computer this and computer that inside. I wasn’t impressed.

    When I was a junior in high school (the late 70s), I learned BASIC, a programming language, and we accessed the school computer system (OTIS) through a teletype machine in the computer lab. There were no monitors. We typed our program in, line by line, and we got a printout when we were done, and if there was an error or a typo, that’s when we found it, and had to redo it. My trig teacher bought a TRS-80 which was the radio shack version of a home computer. We used a TV screen as the monitor, a cassette tape (don’t you DARE ask what that is) for storing the data…and I forget what we used as a keyboard…..Anyway…I wasn’t thrilled. Or impressed. But I also didn’t know I was on the cutting edge of computer programming–one step beyond those old FORTRAN punch cards–which, by they way, were still in use.

    I married at GEEK in 1988, who actually still had a TRS-80, and had upgraded and could pull a computer apart and put it back together (and still can). And we have had every update since..everything you mentioned and then some.

    I remember when you couldn’t use the phone if the computer was using it. I remember when we used to have put the phone receiver in recepticle in the modem.

    I do have a smart phone now, but i’m not fluent with it, and when I want to know how to text a picture to a friend, I ask my teenager. I feel like I have been drug by technology since that TRS-80 experience–forced into a world that is getting smarter than I am.

    BUT. I had a professor in college (yeah, in the early 80s) who said that as technology gets smarter, we get dumber. (I wonder if HE can use a smartphone?). His example was that once upon a time a grocery checker had to know how to do math–or at least run an adding machine (yeah, back int he 60s, they really were simple adding machines, not computers), but now all they have to know is how to run a bar code over a scanner. (I think there’s a little more to it nowadays.) But I HAVE noticed that if the total comes up wrong and you tell a checker, I bought ten at 59 cents, that should be $5.90, they look at you like you are a human calculator….so I’ll give my old college professor that much–either that or it’s drop-outs that are stuck in the checker jobs?

    I have thought many times, if there were an EMP burst that took out all the computers (yeah, it could happen), how quickly everything would come to a halt. My car has a zillion computer functions in it, and wouldn’t run. No one would know what time it …people would actually have to talk to each other. And would anyone know how to wash dishes? grow food? make clothing? I feel like my generation is one of the last that was taught these things–The girls I went to school with took home ec to learn how to cook and sew–and not all of them did that much even. My mom taught us (as I’m sure yours did) how to make bread, make clothes, clean house, preserve food…but I was kinid of unique in my generation–at least among city kids. I passed all that on to my daughter, but so many people don’t know the basics…

    But I haven’t even started on the miracles of technology. If you aren’t excited by technology, you aren’t in the right field. Medicine is bursting with exiting advances. For example, diabetics can wear little computers that give them a little bit of insulin on a continuous basis. There are also devices that stick a little fishing line-like piece of something under the skin that can measure the blood sugar. And it won’t be long until these continuous glucose sensors can talk to the insulin pumps and they won’t have to even think about counting carbs or insulin-carb ratios anymore….that’s pretty miraculous (especially if you know a type 1 diabetic and what pain all that is).

    Or, think about what has gone on in the world of 3D printers. My geek just got a new one (I think this is our 3rd 3D printer…little heated tubes that melt plastic and are controlled by a computer on an XYZ axis that can print AMAZING things. There are 3D printers that can print with metal. There are advances in 3D printers with regard to body parts, or frameworks….it’s endless what people can create and how young minds are taking new technology into new frontiers. There are even 3D printers (big ones) that print airplane parts….

    But while we live in this incredible time of amazng ingenuity, we need to be mindful of the old ways, remember how to use the old tools, remember how to work with our hands and use our imaginations. As the old song goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old…” Make new technology, but remember the old ways. (My dad died in January and my mom is still going through some of his stuff, and today my husband found a little plastic box with labels for 3.5 inch disks, and some mouse balls. When I started my transcription business in 2000, we were still using 5.25 inch floppies and just transitioning to 3.5, and all mice still had balls. Our monitors (and printers) were enough to heat the office in the winter, and sometimes we had to open the window. Then we switched to laser printers and flat screens, and now we have to run a heater in the winter….

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    • Emily Sara Smucker

      I’m sure my age has something to do with my perspective shift. But I still think that the boom of constant new consumer technology has ended. The innovations post 2010 are all industry specific. 3D printers and landable rockets are exciting, but they’re not owned by the average person. Instead of tech evolving past the smart phone the way it evolved past the flip phone and iPod, everyone today has smart phones that really aren’t that different from what they had in 2008. It’s just that more people have them, and they’ve evaded more areas of people’s lives.

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  2. I agree with you, Emily. I am old (probably older than Jodie because I went to college in the 70’s and we didn’t have computers at all then). I have always resisted tech stuff and was not excited about it, but have grudgingly learned to use it, mostly because my family pushed me and because it is increasingly impractible not to. Only a few months ago I gave up my malfunctioning flip phone and got my first smartphone. And I have to admit that I LOVE IT, and I love my chromebook too. And my wireless printer. Mostly because (like your mom says) it allows me communicate so effortlessly with my 3 far-flung children and a few old friends. Shopping and buying stuff online, looking up anything my intellectual curiosity wants to know about, paying bills, finding out where your husband is…it just enhances my quality of life by making so many things easier. However, having grown up without tech, I don’t have too much of a problem limiting its presence in my life. But I see its corrosive effect all around me. The screen addiction, the ruined marriages, the numbness to violence engendered by gaming, the cyber harassment in our schools, the illiteracy and non-existent attention spans of children, and on and on. It IS scary!!! My perspective is that the genuinely useful technology has been around for a while, and a lot of the new stuff is just bells and whistles and unnecessary or even destructive. Being able to text your relative that your plane has landed is useful. Being able to talk to your vacuum cleaner or have your $6000 fridge monitor and photograph every food item inside it is not. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2310487/Robomop-The-vacuum-cleaner-recognises-voice-clears-tell-to.html https://www.cnet.com/videos/samsungs-6000-smart-fridge-is-an-outstanding-appliance/

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  3. Very interesting. i have noticed too, that checkers don’t seem to be able to do math. While they are punching buttons, i am counting backwards to figure out how much change they owe me. It doesn’t work well when i’m tired, but most of the time it’s great. And if they make a mistake, they don’t know what to do with it, and i have to do the math for them.

    BUT, the new Tesla has smart windshield wipers that adjust to the amount of water hitting the windshield! That would be AWESOME for Dolly! Of course, by the time any of us can afford that, we probably won’t be driving cars anymore. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a lot that’s exciting about technology right now! Most of the “consumer” advances you were referring to, I agree, have kind of leveled off. But, the do-it-yourself community is booming in this age! We appreciate that this age in history of technology is enabling us to competitively thrive self-sufficiently in this still yet technologically advancing civilization.

    Remember that technology encompasses old age tools and new age tools. New age tools are notably computer technology- which you were entirely referring to.

    Someone on your thread posted:
    “But while we live in this incredible time of amazing ingenuity, we need to be mindful of the old ways, remember how to use the old tools, remember how to work with our hands and use our imaginations.”

    Apply this concept to “new age tools”, and you’ll find the excitement in technology again. Perhaps, become a do-it-yourself-er, instead of just a consumer, and you will see the excitement in tech again.

    The wise from the unwise are distinguishable by “how” they use their tools, computer technology included. If you focus on the “how” these new tools can be used, versus “what” new tools are being produced, you’ll find much reason to become excited!

    The excitement in today’s history of technology that I see is that consumers of computer technology have so much more individual and creative power. Each generation has more access to information and an advanced set of tools. With the specific technological know how, we can do *even more* today with our at home technology, without having to rely on the large corporations for every nut and bolt. Literally- need a nut or bolt? We can precisely design it on our home computer, print it with our home 3-D printer, and cast it with home casting supply.

    People can still live off grid in today’s society, but they can do so differently with new age tools. Some people use modern day washing machines adapted to modern bicycles and do the washing via pedaling. We can live off grid with solar panels, and still function competitively among the elite urbanites. We aren’t trapped by technology, but alternatively enabled by it, just as the older generations weren’t trapped by the tools they had. We thrive in this age, just as people thrive with roofs over their heads. We have so much more freedom right now than any other time. That’s quite exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Smart meters are another scary technological device. We had to pay to say, “No.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Google result for smart meters:
      -A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electric energy and communicates the information to the electricity supplier for monitoring and billing. Smart meters typically record energy hourly or more frequently, and report at least daily.-
      My apartment complex just put one of these in last week. What other smart meters are there?

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  6. Thank you, Anne, for giving me the opportunity to explain further.The google definition is true but that is only a small part of the bigger picture. You are supposed to believe that is all there is to it. When we got the notice in the mail informing us when our analogue meter would be replaced with the smart meter, unless we opted out, a big red flag was waving.

    So after watching a 58 minute debate in the MI legislature concerning this matter and doing other research, I had a long conversation with our power company regarding three issues: the cost, the safety, and the privacy.

    It takes up to $9.00/month in electricity just to keep it operating. The smart meter has a life expectancy of about 1/3 that of an analogue meter. Who pays for that? Yes, the consumer.

    Even though It may be unlikely, smart meters have caught on fire while attached to a building which could be your home. Also, they emit a huge amount of EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) to which I am sensitive. Fortunately we are in the country so wouldn’t have the cumulative effect of city dwellers.

    Here’s the other scary part. Smart meters have the potential to not only control your individual appliances but also monitor activity of individuals within your home. Confirmed.

    Do your own research to come to your own conclusions, which may rightfully differ from mine. Our previous president signed to make the smart meter legal. This brings us one step closer to the global power grid goal.

    We likely won’t always have a choice in the matter, but until then I accept the freedom to do so. Even though this is initially scary I rest in peace knowing that our Creator is still alive!

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