Monday, January 30, 2006

Text messaging and relationships

Can Love Blossom in a Text Message?: I've never gotten into text messaging on my cell phone--i think it's enough of a pain to enter names into my address book via a cell phone keypad, much less writing whole messages with it. But lots of people text extensively, and this article from USA Today gets into an interesting area: how texting is being used within romantic relationships. Since its brevity allows avoidance of "awkward explanations," some people are even using it to break up with people. Seems that people can find new ways to be tasteless whatever the technology.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Technology was made for man...

“But to return to the future…If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative… In this community…science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them.”

--Aldous Huxley, Foreword to HarperPerennial edition of Brave New World, ix.

Amen. I think life will be more okay if we can keep that in mind. So many people act as though technology itself will either completely save or ruin our lives, but it’s a tool. To be used as a tool. And if we can avoid the trap of letting it own us, learn how to use it responsibly, life will be better.

Like many tools and possessions, it’s good to hold it loosely. To do things without it from time to time to appreciate it. Like alcohol, if we need it around us all the time it can get unhealthy.

I can turn on my TV and choose from 30 choices. I have the means of instant communication. I can write something up in Word and get my thoughts down quickly. Then I can immediately publish it in a blog. I can carry my music with me. These are good things.

But sometimes it’s good to slow down. To appreciate the things of life without technology. To turn off the iPod and the TV to listen to the silence. To write a poem or a story or an essay or a letter or novel in longhand. To spend time sitting face to face with a friend, chatting. To go for a walk by a river and stare at how slow it moves. To read a book and think about what it means before moving on to the next one.

It’s good to have balance. To learn to use technology well and to appreciate it. But also, even if in short bursts, to learn to do without it, so as to appreciate the non-technological things of life. It’s a lesson I am thankful I learned awhile ago.

I love my iPod and my DVD player and my computer and its programs. I love the ease of researching things on the Internet and IMing and emailing my friends. But I also make a point to make times when I purposely do things the non-technical way. To become a bit less efficient to gain other benefits. One could hike up a mountain virtually, I suppose, but I’d rather feel the physical work of it.

If I didn’t have those non-technological tasks, my life would be less real somehow. And less sane. After all, one beauty and potential curse of technology is how quickly it moves. How all-powerful and super-productive and involved in things it can make us feel. It’s good to realize the limitations of that from time to time.