The Pros (and Woes) of Technology

I admit that I am, for the most part, self-taught by what I can do on a computer. I am old enough to vaguely remember manual typewriters, easily remember electric typewriters and even remember using a DOS prompt when computers first came out.

I also admit that I am limited in what I do with a computer. Emails, limited social media, online games, online banking/bill paying and, of course, blogging take up 99% of the time I spend on it. Having said that, I probably easily average 4 hours a day sitting in front of this screen.

I wrote an earlier entry about my anxiety of changing over to a new laptop and how it was so much easier than I ever could imagine. And I was proud…until the day I needed to print something and couldn’t get my printer connected properly. Of course, I contacted HP support online (only slightly better than having to do it by telephone!) and spent quite some time with Vincent, the agent. He logged into my computer and ran a whole bunch of programs while I watched – fascinated – on my screen. Eventually, he found that, in the short 3 weeks I had been using the new laptop, I’d ended up with multiple viruses! Seriously? I don’t download anything from anyone unless they are very trusted. I don’t even open spam mail, whether it shows an attachment or not. I could not fathom how I could have several unknown origin viruses in, again, just 3 weeks!

I learned that some viruses can come into your modem without needing you to do anything. This was not good news! (Of course, that explains why I go through laptops every 3 or so years!) All of those brand-name firewalls you purchase can’t fight these – the only way to do it is to block them right at the modem from ever getting through.

Long story short – I paid about the same amount for one of those firewall programs to have a program installed onto my laptop that protects the modem from the viruses. I chose the 5-year plan (imagine me having the same laptop for 5 years!) and it includes 24-hour phone access to this agent for any reason my computer decides to not function.

Is it working? I can only assume so, since I haven’t had any issues of any kind since it was installed. I told Vincent I would be calling him back within the year to run the same program he ran that showed the viruses. I want to see a screen before me that says “no viruses found”!

I am also going to admit that I am even slightly more inept when it comes to cell phones. Again, I’m old enough to remember rotary phones – desktop and wall-mount – with the long stretched out cords. I thought I was “big stuff” when I got the bag phone, technology’s first attempt at a cell phone. Now, I have a cell phone with all kinds of programs and stuff, and I use it for texts 99% of the time, and the other 1% is to get information I need to find right away when I’m not at my laptop. I use less than 2GB a month total.

So, is technology more pro than woe? In so many ways, it makes our lives so much easier. Information about anything can be found on the “world wide web” with just a few keystrokes. Checking in on and seeing what your family and friends are up to is easy with social media. Online shopping and its conveniences has many perks. Paying a bill is streamlined when you don’t have to write a check or pay for a postage stamp.

But I am concerned that society has become so tied to the internet (through whatever means – cell phone, computer, fancy wrist watch) that human interaction becomes unnecessary. Brick and mortar stores are continuing to close – or go bankrupt – as online shopping becomes the more preferred and convenient way to purchase things. Even the postal service continues to lose money because we don’t send mail in the quantities that we used to.

And we don’t talk to each other anymore! Communication is handled through a text, or if the message is more complicated, through an email. Not to mention that we are paying such close attention to our phones that we don’t even bother to acknowledge a person walking by us, much less offer them a smile or a simple “hello”. We are becoming a society so involved with the pros of technology that we don’t consider the woes of the loss of human contact!

And, at least to me, the biggest crime is that, when we are in moments of human interaction, we’re so keenly aware of what ever signal our device gives us to announce activity that we divert our attention, even if only for a moment, to see what it is. Nothing says, “Wait, this might be more important than you are” in quite the same way!

This society needs to find a balance if we are going to continue as humankind. I’m not against technology – it makes many things more convenient in my life – but, as I always tell people, “I do not live on my phone”. My phone is on a charger in my bedroom and honestly, I check the weather with more consistency than I do anything else. As for the computer, I can only say that I have no desire to actually learn how to do more on it than what I have taught myself to do. My balance comes from spending quality time with my beloved brother (conversation never stops), time with my bestie, Joanne, and her family, and my commitment with the same bestie for lunch once a month that’s just our time. Those things, plus the other fun things we find to do together, plus hanging out with people my brother knows whenever I visit him, make sure that I am keeping human interaction a priority in my life.

How are you at keeping a balance between human interaction and technology?

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