Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Proliferation

I vividly remember the day I bought my first VCR. I remember how expensive it was, or at least how expensive it felt at the time, how ridiculously hard it was to program, how incredibly excited I was at the thought that I could rent movies and record shows. I also vividly remember when I purchased my first computer. Email! At home! Chatting! Again, my first cell phone engendered the joy of the new. I walked down the street and called everyone I could think of, just because I could.

These days new gadgets mean very little. I take technology for granted, adding more and more of it to my life not because I'm excited by it so much as because it's come to be expected. A home isn't complete without a computer, which isn't complete without WiFi and remote printing. It's not enough to have a cell phone, one must have an iPhone or other PDA so that one can answer email and post crap on Facebook while standing in the checkout line to purchase an HDMI cable for the home theater system.

I drive a car that has a Bluetooth connection, so I can talk on my phone through the car stereo. While I'm on the subject, my car also has a refrigerated glove compartment, so I can keep I don't know what cold. My service manual is always a perfect 62 degrees; I suppose I could stick water or food in there, but I've never bothered. It's just another technological innovation that I didn't ask for.

Upgrades and gadgets creep up on you, until one day you're paying your monthly bills and you realize that you are paying $125 a month for television, which was once free, and was recently 500% cheaper. The PDA adds $45 a month to the cell phone bill. The additional home internet connection adds another charge. Once you watch things in HD there's no going back, but you pay more for HD than for other channels. Blu-Ray is superior to regular DVD, but you have to replace your entire movie collection. I've already replaced all my albums with CDs, and although so far I've refused to replace the CDs with MP3s I'm sure the day will come when I have no choice and am forced to purchase my favorite music for the third time in my life.

You can't go back. The social pressure to have a cell phone, to answer email immediately, to have the ability to chill chardonnay in your glove compartment, is immense. On occasion I leave my house without my cellphone simply because I don't feel like carrying it and no one can believe it, they called all my numbers and no one answered, how is this possible?

Nothing makes me feel older than the fact that I fondly recall the world of fewer than 50 cable channels, and of being perfectly contented with that.


tunsie said...

my neice said 2 me,uncle some peoples eyes r better left,CLOSED.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

Sandy said...

There are times when I really want to be alone, and I have the same experience as you: it angers people that I do NOT answer the ubiquitous cell phone at their every whim. I am angered by the loss of privacy and the interrupted thoughts I have to endure. Let's start a movement: regain your inner voice. Leave your cell phone at home occasionally. Or just turn the darn thing off.
It also angers me when people have full, animated conversations with their callers while in my presence, or in line at a store. When did it become socially acceptable to ignore the people around you? It's rude, plain and simple.