Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gadget Guardian

Greetings Friends,

The image above is of the iPhone 4, not available yet here in Canada, but already a controversial topic in the US. Apparently, there are antenna issues, exacerbated by holding the unit up to your ear during a phone call; obstructing the signal by the mere act of speaking. Apple has rectified this "oops" by giving new iPhone 4 users a skin that protects the antenna, therefore preventing signal obstruction. This highly anticipated gadget will be available in Canada and other parts of the world, supposedly by the end of July; right on the heels of Apple's introduction of the iPad, a tablet computer that aims to make books obsolete, as well as affording the human race an even greater ability to allow their socially interactive capabilities to atrophy more than we thought possible.

Before I go on, I must admit that I am an iPhone user. I became one in November 2009, shortly after my initial foray into the Canadian mobile phone universe went horribly awry, courtesy of a very inept carrier who shall remain nameless. I tried to take the cheap route, and got what I deserved. Now that I'm paying through the nose, I'm still not thrilled with the service I get, albeit it is a good deal more reliable than my first go-round. Even so, the fleecing I am subjected to makes me want to pitch my precious gadget, but sadly, I have come to rely on it most heavily. It is my primary source of contact with friends, family and work colleagues, despite what I pay for the privilege. I've even gotten myself hooked on the addictive Fruit Ninja game app, as well as TSN Mobile and Facebook. My thumbs have never been stronger due to all the texting I do, and I've even mulched my address book, because all that information now resides in my trusty piece of technology. 

The sad part is, I find myself irrationally coveting the iPhone 4, the same way I irrationally coveted Hello Kitty puffy stickers for my 6th grade loose leaf binder. In a world where 12 year-olds are surgically attached to their BlackBerrys, rendering them incapable of writing a graceful sentence, and barely able to read said sentence, I am horribly ashamed of myself. I've lamented before how I've borne witness to a technological revolution in my lifetime, and realize that it hasn't all been for the greater good. As advanced as our communicative capabilities have become, they've stunted us in so many other ways. While I've felt for a long time that the human race has grown exponentially more narcissistic and uncaring, mobile communication has gobsmacked humanity, turning us into these self-centred pods, completely self-absorbed; oblivious and uninterested in our fellow man. It was bad enough when Invasion of the Body Snatchers depicted the stealing of our bodies, but now, we've been literally invaded by technology. While we all look the same, our ability to interact with each other has deteriorated to a truly frightening level. No longer are we able to look each other in the eye while we converse; as a matter of fact, most of our conversing takes place via these gadgets: actual speaking, texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, Digging, et. al. Honestly, if we did not have our requisite gadget within our grasp 24/7, we may just wind up with the D.T.'s - and there'd be no Methadone equivalent short of replacing that gadget with another one.

While I don't pretend to be a "benevolent" gadget user (just as I used to claim I was a "benevolent" SUV driver. Really, who did I think I was kidding? I drove that thing like Cruella DeVille!), I do, however, go to great lengths to not be obnoxious about it. I try not to carry on conversations in public places, and when I have no choice, I make sure I am as far away from my fellow Canadians as possible. I always silence my phone in a movie theatre, and never pull it out to text or check my e-mail - EVER. I don't text in front of other people I am conversing with, and I try not to take phone calls while standing on line in the bank, or while contemplating Shreddies vs. Cheerios in the cereal aisle of the supermarket. And, I NEVER, EVER text while driving. Talking is another story, but I'm working on that. 

Technology is a constant in all our lives that will just keep getting more and more pervasive as time goes by. Maybe in my lifetime, I will live to see the introduction of "Technological Etiquette" classes that will be a requirement, just as driving lessons are, if you want to be a safe, responsible "Gadget Guardian". You should even be required to carry a license, which would be subject to suspension, if you violate the laws of responsible "Gadget Guardianship".  Maybe I won't live to see parenting licenses become a reality, but gadget guardianship would certainly mollify me a great deal.

In the meantime, go forth and make intelligent use of technology. But please, don't be an idiot about it. If you are, the Gadget Snatchers will find you.


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