Technology is the jellyfish to my beach vacation. It looks cool, but if you touch it, it burns until someone rubs sand on you.
Back in the “good ole days,” I played with trees and didn’t have a computer in my house. I can remember the first one we ever got. I was in third grade and it was ugly—a big, beige monster that took up most of the space in our den and made funny noises, but it had color. In fact, it had two: orange and black. The orange for the words you were typing on the only program it had, MS-DOS, and the black for everything else. I hated it, probably because I could foresee that for the rest of my life, this machine (or one like it) would force me to do work. Sure enough, fifteen years later, I am completely dependent on computers that conveniently allow me to do my work in the middle of the night, on weekends, holidays, and even while I’m sick. Jellyfish tentacle one.
Everything is so technologically advanced now. I remember riding the bus to school and listening to mixed tapes on my Walkman. Now I have a video iPod Nano and I don’t see how you’re supposed to listen to music on anything else. If it isn’t the size of half a graham cracker, clearly it’s too big. If I have to walk anywhere, I bring the little guy with me. When I’m driving, he connects to my radio, and at night I tuck him in next to my iBook so he can recharge to better serve me tomorrow. The best part about iPods is if you have earbuds on, no one talks to you. You don’t have to interact with anyone! I have a friend who wears her earbuds around constantly. Half the time she’s not even listening to music, she’s listening to you talk because you think she can’t hear. That’s sneaky and I like it, but I also kind of like talking to people. Tentacle two.
Earlier, I mentioned growing up with trees. Despite my high-heeled, well-coiffed, mascara-ed appearance now, I used to be the biggest tomboy. We’re talking fort-building, BB-gun-shooting, reptile-handling, walking-through-mud-puddles, “if-the-boys-can-do-it-so-can-I” tomboy. That’s how I got all my exercise. As soon as we got home from school, the boys and I would hop on our bikes and ride around until dinner, or figure new ways to hurt ourselves on rollerblades, or climb the nearest rope. Unfortunately, the Y doesn’t off that in a group class. So I have to figure out something else. But the real outdoors isn’t climate controlled which means I run the risk of sweating or messing up my hair and mama don’t play that. I go to the gym. I can hop on a treadmill with my iPod and run preprogrammed intervals. Or watch a movie on the 10” plasma screen while the treadmill monitors my heart rate and counts the calories I’m burning. Isn’t that just a little creepy? A treadmill knows more about me than my friends do. Age, weight, cardio-pulmonary activity. Tentacle three.
It’s just getting to be a little much. My coffeemaker knows when to wake up. My computer knows when to go to sleep. There are light switches in our classrooms that my professors can’t even figure out, and they have doctorates.
I want to take a step back and remember what it was like before automated check-outs in grocery stores and shoes with microchips in them and cell phones that keep us in contact twenty-four hours a day. I know, the drunk dials are funny, and the Harris Teeter runs are so much quicker when you can bag your own stuff, and it’s so convenient to be able to post a resume on Monster.com and have other people do the finding, and honestly, who doesn’t love their Facebook?
But I’m a little tired of being angry because my cell doesn’t work in the library, or making sure that I put an “lol! º” after an IM joke because my dry sense of humor doesn’t work as well when you can’t see my face, or wondering what the kids in the Caravan in front of me are watching. Enough is enough! Walk outside… talk to your neighbor… read a book! Let’s reclaim the real world!!
Ironic, isn’t it, that this is a blog.
Erika Weed is a senior at Winthrop University and an editorial intern at Charlotte magazine.