You’ve got mail

By on Sep 10, 2013 in Posts | 0 comments

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My win today is helping my dad open his email, over the phone, without the ability to view his screen. All it took was a little reminder about which icon on the desktop is a web browser, and reassurance that if he can open Google, he has internet access. I also mentioned that as long as he has internet access, he can open his email and countless other websites from any computer around the world. Way to go Dad! Perhaps someday soon you’ll find this blog and check it out!

My conversation with my Dad made me reflect on how much many I take for granted my basic understanding of computers. It also got me thinking about the irony of this basic understanding. It provides both the freedom to access unlimited amounts of information instantaneously, and binds many people with an insatiable hunger for, and reliance on, this information.  Many people feel obligated to check work emails all weekend long, or to view friends’ Facebook updates, photos, and tweets. Some people even need to travel to remote locations without cell phone or internet access in order to truly relax. Perhaps, the fact that they cannot access this constant stream of information relieves them of the obligation or desire to do so.

While I believe that utilizing technology is beneficial, and recognize is necessary in many of our daily jobs, I also think complete reliance on it is detrimental. I can remember a time when I needed to know where I was going in order to drive there, and remember a phone number (or at least the location of the slip of paper I wrote it on) in order to dial it.  Today, I simply ask my phone to “call so and so” or “get directions to the nearest gas station.”  Like my Dad, I still prefer face-to-face conversations to email, and have made a conscious decision not to link my work email to my phone. Still, I fear that my attention span and memory deteriorate as my technology usage increases.

I am certainly happy to help my Dad access his email, and am proud that I was able to do so with only verbal descriptions of his screen, but wonder if he has it right being a technology laggard. Perhaps his memory, ability to be in the moment, and attention span are better because of it.  More likely, he and the tech junky are simply opposite extremes; each with something to learn from the other. The tech savvy person can show my Dad some practical applications of technology and my Dad can teach them how to live well without it.

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