Welcome to the Digi-verse!

Welcome to the Digi-verse!

I am old-school…but thankful for technology

I am thankful for my cell phone. I remember the times before cell phones even existed. Things like being stranded on the roadside in pouring rain and walking a few miles to find a payphone to call for help. I remember actually pointing a camera to take pictures and having to get the film developed into a print to stuff into an envelope, which then had to go to the post-office and spend days (or weeks coming from Alaska) in the mail, just to share with family and friends. I remember the fold-out paper maps that always managed to tear right across the road I was looking for. (By now you should have a pretty good idea of how ancient I am.) To top it off, yes, I even remember when phones were attached to the wall and the length of the cord on it determined how far you could go from the wall while talking. (OMG…I’m as old as Methuselah!)

I am also thankful for the computer and internet. As an independent author, these tools have opened up doors for me that otherwise would not have existed. The time this technology saves me is invaluable, as it makes quick work of transmitting, copying, editing, and publishing. Now, instead of weeks, months, or even years, I can go from the idea stage to a published book for sale in less than a week (if I really put my mind and fingers to it).

I remember the days of the old typewriters, and changing the ink ribbons (which always managed to leave me with blackened fingertips, no matter how careful I was).

I also remember a teacher from my typing class in high school who removed the screws from the carriage returns on our typewriters before class on the day of our final test for the year. We began the test, pecking away as fast as we could on the keys, racing against the clock timer, eyes focused on the text we were copying, paying careful attention to avoid any mistakes. But suddenly, at the end of the first line, when the carriage returns were pushed (these were old manual typewriters, not electric), instead of stopping at the beginning margin as usual, the whole top of the typewriter fell off onto our desks. As we sat there rather dumbfounded, our teacher was laughing hysterically. As it turned out, our final test for the year was learning how to put our machines back together.

Even for the traditionally published author, the ability to instantly transmit a manuscript and receive correspondence from the publisher or agent is a worthy asset.

I must admit though, I rather miss the sound of the keys clacking on the old typewriters. However, I just recently discovered there is a keyboard that makes the same sound though, and I’m actually considering buying it. Oh, the irony…using modern technology to recreate the things of old.

Those were the days…

I also remember the time spent with family and friends, when we actually enjoyed our time together. There were real conversations, when you actually paid full attention to each other.

I remember the days of childhood, the revelry in jumping on a bike and taking off with your friends to explore, or chasing each other through the neighborhood playing tag. Sometimes we just sat on the porch steps, pondering the mysteries of life from a kid’s point of view.

Another favorite activity in the summer was simply playing in a creek, enjoying childish antics, but more importantly, enjoying the companionship of our friends.

There was no such thing as “constant contact”. If you wanted to talk to someone, you simply called them on the phone. If there was no answer, it meant they weren’t at home, and you either went looking for them in the favorite hangouts, or you called back later (we didn’t have answering machines back then).

On a side note…I was pretty excited when I got my first phone with an answering machine. It meant no more worrying about missed calls, and since I was looking for a job at the time, I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t miss an opportunity for an interview.

However, my German Shepherd apparently did not like the intrusion of a strange voice speaking from the little box (or perhaps she was just trying to rescue the person and free them from their tiny prison?). She destroyed the machine the first time someone left me a message.

In the wintertime, all it took was a fresh snowfall and every kid in the neighborhood joined together to build colossal snowmen and start the epic snowball battles. For the more adventurous (and graceful) folks, there was ice-skating and skiing. For the rest of us, there was sledding.

Year round, we spent our time in building relationships, through talking and doing things together. And we learned about each other’s character in personal ways, through the experiences. We even learned how to solve our own problems and get along with those few that we didn’t really like.

Even into adulthood, though the means and methods changed somewhat, the interactions were still real and of a personal nature with our friends. We still did things together and had meaningful face-to-face conversations. It is only through real life that real friends and relationships are built.

There always have, and always will be, people that come and go in our lives. But there are some, if only one or two, that no amount of time or distance can separate from us. Those are the friends that really make you feel like you are important to them. Those are the real connections, because they are of the heart.

Don’t be a phony…

Is it just me? Or has anyone else noticed how the glorious world of cell phones and digital screens are robbing us of real-life interaction?

I really didn’t intend for this post to be a rant, or to bash technology.

But…in my disgruntled opinion…the all-consuming use of technology, especially cell phones, is hampering the ability to develop and maintain real relationships. I find this both rude and disrespectful.

It gets really irritating when during a conversation, the person you are talking to is continuously distracted with constant texts or calls. I understand the folks trying to contact them may not be aware that they are in the middle of a conversation. However, that does not negate the fact that in total disregard to the person speaking, the other person will immediately stop listening to read and respond to every text or call. Even more disturbing is the constant checking of social media. I mean, seriously? Is the picture of dinner someone just posted on Instagram really more important than the actual person sitting right in front of you? (And by the way, those pictures and posts will still be there later to drool over, but the person you’re with may not be.)

To me, that is the same as saying, “I am more interested in what anyone else might have to say, or pictures they may share, than having a real conversation with you”. It is for this very reason that when I go to visit someone, I usually leave my cell phone in the car, or put the ringer on silent and refuse to check for messages every 5 minutes. I want for my family and friends to know that they have my full attention when we are visiting, because they are important to me. I even went so far as to encourage folks that visit me to leave their phones off while they are visiting, although that hasn’t worked so far. (I guess having conversations with my critters isn’t a bad thing after all. At least they don’t have phones…yet.)

Being old(er) and remembering what life was like before being continuously plugged-in, I still like to enjoy some uninterrupted time to myself, like when I’m trying to sleep or work. I often think about a conversation years ago in which my younger sister was fussing at our Dad about turning the ringer off on his phone and not being able to reach him. He said he didn’t like being bothered when he was busy or napping, to which she replied, “But what if it’s an emergency?” He told her, “Well, if it’s an emergency you better call 911. They’ll get there a lot faster than I will”.

While I’m ranting about this digital age, one alarming attribute is how easy it makes it to be deceitful, even harmful, for those wishing to do so.

A while back, a well-meaning friend suggested that I try online dating as a way to meet folks. My reaction then (and now) was, “Hell no! I might start off with Sam Elliot online, and end up with Ted Bundy in person!

We can literally put whatever we want online and say it is true, while behind the screen it is actually the opposite. Scams are a-dime-a-dozen nowadays, and countless folks fall prey to them every day. We need to approach any kind of online relationship with caution, and keep in mind that even with the best verification methods available, deceit is still always a possibility. (This is true even in the real world, but the ability to manipulate and deceive is far easier online.)

One other gripe I have with the online world is the over-abundance of sharing everything. While I realize that everyone has an opinion, and they have the right to one, I have to ask, “Is it really necessary to share every one of them”? Some of us really don’t care what the Kardashians are doing, or why a confused 17-year-old high school kid thinks our moral convictions are wrong. And the amount of drama and hate that gets stirred up over stupid subjects that have absolutely no important meaning to life simply boggles the mind! I don’t want to waste the precious moments of my life debating stupid crap that serves no beneficial purpose. (Although I must admit, it has increased my finger reflex in speed-scrolling past the junk I don’t want to waste my time on.)

I personally choose to not share certain aspects of my life for global view at will, so the idea that someone could truly know me just from the digi-verse is absurd. While what I do share is honest (or just for entertainment or education purposes), there are personal sides of me that are reserved for my real-life family and friends only.

I think what it really comes down to is this: are you living a real life, or a phony life? Do you spend more time engaged in personal experiences in the real world, or the digital world? I’ve seen first-hand the similarity of screen use and drug use, especially in the younger generations. Most folks just can’t seem to stay away from their screens for very long before they become anxious and go into withdrawal symptoms.

There are now numerous studies showing some dangerous trends and addictive effects on people from the constant use of digital screens. Drugs that are found to be addictive and harmful are banned or heavily regulated. But it is up to us to determine how much and in what way we use technology.

Again, I’m not trying to say that digital technology is bad. We just have to ask ourselves, “Am I using this technology as a tool to enhance my life, or is it consuming my life”?

Well, it’s just my opinion and some food for thought. And I’m hungry for some of yours, so please share.

I’m going to go out and enjoy some sunshine, and play frisbee with my dog.

Happy Tuesday, and I’ll see you tomorrow.  – Amber

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