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Culture, Life, Technology

Can’t escape the digital life

FullSizeRenderThis will probably sound funny.   I’m writing this on a computer.  I will view my stats on my phone.  I’ll read a bit later on my Kindle.  But I really miss my pre-digital life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I really like my iPhone (almost said love but I think I’ll reserve that word a bit moving forward. It struck me recently how we use that word too often), I really like my Kindle.  I actually can’t imagine not having instant access to my email/kids/wife/whatever that my phone gives me.  I can (and do) take hundreds of books around with me all the time now.

But how simple was our lives before the devices to make our lives better took over.  I don’t know that any member of my family can sit down and watch a program on TV without looking something up on their phone.  “Where have I seen that actor before?”  I whip out my phone and look it up.  “I wonder if that thing I’ve ordered has shipped yet.”  Let me check the app really quickly.  I even went out and bought a smart watch (Pebble Time which is great by the way) so if I get an email all I have to do is look at my watch to see how important it is (never very).

How nice would it be if we weren’t slaves to our phones, tablets, etc. anymore?  What if when someone emailed you on vacation they had to wait until you were home to get a reply?  Wouldn’t that be better than the system we have now where your work can always get a hold of you, without even having to try hard?

It’s true, back in the ‘80s I couldn’t watch the recent trailer for whatever movie was coming out that year.  I couldn’t play a fully realized first person shooter or RPG on my phone (heck, I couldn’t even play that kind of game on my Atari 2600).  How important are those abilities?  Is my life even marginally better by being able to do that?  I doubt it.  It’s probably worse now for it.

So why don’t I get rid of my iPhone?  I’ve done it before.  Well I do use my phone differently than I did back then.  Now I use it more for music and audiobooks than I did back then.  And while I could probably lose the music I’d hate to lose easy access to my audiobook library (thanks for that Audible).  I also do significantly more texting now than I ever have done before and I can’t imagine texting with a 10 Key number pad.  At the time iMessage was brand new and it wasn’t until that time that I really sent text messages (we only had 200 messages on our plan at the time).  Now with that an unlimited texting on our plan I barely ever talk on the phone.

And I think that’s the problem.  I’ve integrated my devices too heavily into my life.  At least too heavily to easily, and without adjustment, remove them.  Convenience has become distraction.

The only device that I don’t think fits into this pattern, at least not fully is the Kindle.  It lets me read books.  That’s it.  I read a lot before I got it.  I still read a lot.  It’s not a change in what I’m doing.  It is just a different medium.  This of course ignores the truth that when you buy an eBook (or any digital media) you don’t actually own a copy.  You own a license to a copy.  If I go out and pick up a book at the store then I can resell it, pass it down, give it to someone, whatever I want to do with it.  Not true with eBooks but then that’s not changing what I do as far as my day to day activities so let’s leave that out of the discussion.  I may be a bit more distracted at times as if I finish one book I can immediately go to the next one on the list.  But by and large it doesn’t add to the dependence to devices we seem to have now.

Would I like to get away from my cluttered life and go back to a time when my life was less so?  Absolutely.  Will I?  It’s unlikely.  Why? It’s just to integrated into my lifestyle now.

Maybe that was Skynet’s goal all along.

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