Archive for the 'technology' Category

23
Jun
14

depend on it, not me

depend on it not meAre we more dependent on things than on people?

Our society is becoming more and more dependent on things: computers, cell phones, cars, starbucks etc.  However, if one does not have all of those things, does that mean they are not part of society?  Are we excluding humanity in exchange for access to material goods?  Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it is only available to a certain group of people, it no longer connects but divides us.

This morning I heard a story about a homeless family who were living in the woods in a camper and some tents.  They did not have running water or electricity, besides that which the camper provided.  The family managed together until the threat of winter approached.  The administrators of the school which the children attended had concerns and didn’t realize “how bad things were” until they visited their camp site.  A principal said with great emotion that she was so moved by how happy the family seemed to be despite their living conditions.  In response to this, the school took action and the community rallied around the family, eventually providing enough money to secure a home.

Great story, right?  It is always heartwarming to hear about the power of compassion, generosity and community.  But this story made me question the societal norm of the American dream.  Frankly, I admired the family for being so resourceful.  I mean, when’s the last time that we had to make it out in “the wild” without the luxuries of running water and electricity, let alone our cell phones or laptops?  Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.  I’m not saying that homelessness is not a serious issue and problem which our society needs to address.  However, the irony is that a large population of the world lives without running water and electricity all of their lives.  It is their way of life.  However, in American culture, this is quite unheard of and looked down upon.  Not having these things may even be considered irresponsible and separates/classifies us.

I suppose I’m just asking if the way of life which the American media is selling us is best for humanity or for technological advancement?  We think they go hand in hand, but are we leading ourselves into a trap in which we become so dependent on technology that we don’t know how to relate or live without it?  This family not only lived without and admitted that they became even closer because they were forced to interact and work together.  Seems like a side effect which we could all benefit from.  Why do we need to have things to connect us?  If we’re communicating so much more, than why do we seem more dependent on the things themselves than on each other?

 

 

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31
Jan
14

the unsocial network?

the unsocial netowrkWhat does it mean to be part of a social network?  I am still exploring this concept.

After having joined facebook many years ago after it shortly came out, I had a bad incident where someone posted some very inappropriate and offensive things.  This left a very bad taste in my mouth and caused me to avoid rejoining for many years.  As the trend in social networking has grown, I became more and more aware of the need to utilize this tool.  Many people with whom I needed to contact used facebook as their primary form of communication.  When did this happen?  I totally missed this social phenomenon which replaced mail, telephone and email.

Now, feeling very outdated with my lengthy emails and phone messages, I found myself surrounded with isolation.  So much was happening and the only way I could be part of it was through this new social network.  Once I decided to start this blog, I knew I would need to utilize this primary form of communication.  It’s difficult for me to keep up with everyone’s posts, but I want to find a way to “plug” into other people’s lives which is meaningful.

But what does it mean in our current society to be “social?”  For me, being social means not only having fun, but connecting with someone on a deeper level.  So is it possible to create and maintain meaningful relationships using social networks?  I’ve always been a one on one, in person kind of relationship builder.  Having my comments “out there” for everyone to see makes me a bit nervous because after all, there is no tone behind the words and I for one know the danger of misinterpreting someone’s written expression.  I think social networks have the capacity to be beautiful photo albums, depicting and sharing one’s life with others.  But because the book is open to so many people can anyone really be known and feel known?

Because so many people have converted to facebook as a primary networking tool, I want to take advantage of the opportunity by using it to encourage and cheer people on in their lives.  The blog is my way of sharing both my life’s passion and perspective, inviting others to respond and share theirs.  But I think in order to maximize the potential of this technology and use it for the benefit of society – not only can we connect with more people – we can use it with intentionality to grow closer one another and truly share this journey of life.

13
Jan
14

desperately seeking – ?

desperately seekingWhy does it seem so difficult to trust each other?  We all fail and disappoint each other – it’s inevitable.  But would we rather commune with man-made objects rather than breathing human beings?

In this age, it becomes easier and easier to find comfort, companionship and escape in products.  Things like television, movies and video games that seem so real, we don’t have to leave our living rooms to have all of our social needs met.  After all, why take the time and risk to venture out and connect with real live human beings who can hurt, reject and touch us?

So many of us are lonely.  Searching for acceptance and companionship.  Someone who won’t try to change or judge us.  How do we avoid this pain?  We simply take human contact out of the equation. Instead, humans create human-like interaction through technology.  People can build relationships, have adventures, laugh with and even cry with imaginary two dimensional characters.  Does that make these experiences less real or important?  Do we discredit the true emotion stimulated by these interactions? We determine what is real, right?

Can human created and human-like technology replace human connection?  What are the effects of these alternatives?  Do we lose anything?  Or by creating these replacements and mimicking humanity help us to better understand ourselves and human connection?  Are we finding ways to bring joy to those isolated or are we isolating ourselves even further?

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know where we’re headed as a human race.  However, are we simply using this advancement in society to protect ourselves from each other?  To keep us from having to trust another human being who has the capability of hurting us?  Technology is safe.  We control it.  But there’s no pressing stop or delete on a human being.  And that’s what makes us human.  Is there a way to embrace technology without losing faith in humanity?

08
Jan
14

letters from grandma

letters from grandmaWhen’s the last time you got a letter?  I’m not talking about an email or electronic e-card or even a real card.  What I’m referring to is an honest to goodness handwritten correspondence through the United States Post Office?

Years ago there used to be this thing called letters.  It was a graceful and meaningful way of communicating with one another.  One took the time to thoughtfully plan what they wanted to say and how they would say it.  It was an art.  Handwriting spoke even louder than the words used as people strove for refined penmanship (this was still in the days when cursive was the primary form of writing).  A letter was like a gift – a part of one’s time, creative expression and emotion put on paper, arriving as a special surprise to the receiver.  And this gift keeps on giving because the receiver can read it as many times as they want and keep it always.

My grandmother still writes me letters.  In fact, I got one from her this Christmas – and not those general, typed, generic ones that everyone sends out.  Despite the fact that it is getting more difficult for her to write, she takes the time to write me a note.  Here’s what she wrote:

Dear Desiree’,

I hope you have a Merry Christmas.  We’re all going to Janet’s for dinner.  I’m doing pretty good, keeping busy playing bingo 3 times a week.  We had a special one yesterday at 2:00pm because of the snow.  I won the Penny game and a door prize (small bag of salted peanuts and different assorted cookies).  Hope you can read this.  Take care.

Love,

Grandma

P.S.  When I put my tree up I found the little bear about 2 inches tall that you gave me many Christmases ago when you were a little girl.

This isn’t a long letter or one with earth shattering news, and yet it has so much impact than if she were to just email or even call and tell me all these things.  Somehow, these words on a page journey deeper into the heart.  I’m not hearing them once in passing – I’m holding them in my hand and absorbing them as I reread each line with care and anticipation for what she’ll say next.

My grandmother has passed on a lot of things to me for which I am very grateful.  She is an amazing woman whom I greatly admire and whose letters I will always treasure.  I hope that I can pass on this art to others and that we can revitalize it so that future generations can benefit from it.  How do you want to be remembered?  By an email or e-card?  A few texts or facebook messages?  It’s ironic that I should be promoting writing letters when I’m blogging, but I hope that we can keep this legacy of grandma’s letters alive.

10
Dec
13

caught between

Ever feel caught between two worldCaught betweens?  The past and the present?

I’m of a strange generation who does not belong to those who have gone before but certainly does not fit in with the current one.  I’m of a generation who still likes to send cards and handwritten notes to people.  Who is aware of texting, but only uses it if absolutely necessary.  I’d rather not give my phone number and contact information to everyone because I don’t want to always be available.

I can appreciate technology but don’t have a desire to learn about it: if it does what I want it to do, that’s all that matters.  I enjoy dressing up and wish that the styles were more like the 1950’s when men and women wore hats.  Yet I also like the freedom of going to class in sweats.  The thought of skyping is foreign to me.  I’d much rather meet one on one, face to face with someone at a coffee shop and talk for hours.  Facebook scares me.  I finally conceded to join in order to get my blog out there and network with others, but for me it can be overwhelming-so much information that I can’t keep up so I just give up.

The thing that frightens me most though is that I feel like I may be of the last generation who really recognizes what we are losing as we “advance” into the future.  The personal intimacies and polite social connections are fading away and may be completely forgotten.  Quaint intangibles like respecting one’s elders and taking your turn waiting in line seem to be a thing of the past.  Will we remember and recognize those things that we want to hold onto or are we simply moving so fast that we have to let go of as much as we can to maintain our current speed?

It’s difficult to negotiate both worlds.  In the end, I feel like I belong to either one.  If I don’t start moving too I guess I’ll be left behind too.