I have a love/hate relationship with technology. Unless you are a computer genius (I was nice and didn’t say “geek”, but I did think it!), you probably have a similar relationship with it.

The “hate” part of my relationship with technology is simply the fact that I have no idea how it works, thus no idea what to do when it isn’t working, or at least isn’t working correctly. I’ve had a number of laptops crap out on me, usually at around the 4-year mark, and the one thing I have learned from that is to routinely use a flash drive to back up any files I have on my desktop. I’m very alert to things from unknown sources who want me to click on some link, and these make it faster into my spam file than the time it takes me to inhale and exhale one breath. I’m really good at only going to websites that I know and trust; if I do see something for a website I’m not familiar with, I always do a search for the name rather than click on any provided link. Still, no matter how attentive and careful I am, I know that somewhere down the line, there is a pretty good chance I’m going to be buying another laptop. (I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve had this one more than 4 years and have had no issues – yet.)

The “love” part of my relationship with technology is far stronger than its hate counterpart. I mean, I wouldn’t trade the efficient way tasks can be done using technology. I won’t say I’m old, but I can remember when electric typewriters were introduced during my high-school years, and we were thrilled at how much faster we could put words on paper than with a manual one. Of course, there were still issues with how to correct a typecast error, starting with smudging the paper using a pencil eraser. I was pretty satisfied when we got to Wite-Out, although it could be messy, and totally wowed when we got the corrector tape unit that contained correction tape that you simply swiped over what you wanted to erase.

And when phones came out with buttons to push instead of dial to enter the phone number you wanted to call, that saved a lot of time, especially if you entered a wrong number and had to hang-up your call and start again. Answering machines were the bomb-dot-com because you didn’t have to answer the phone to find out what someone was calling you about! Speed-dialing meant we could program certain numbers we called often into our phones so we didn’t even have to dial each digit anymore. And heck, now you just vocally tell your phone who you want to call and it just happens!

We complain about the work ethic of the younger members of our work force, who want to do as little as possible and get paid as much as possible for it. I worked in a grocery store back in the days that the words “bar” and “code” were never used together. We rang in each item according to the price sticker on it via big buttons on a register. We had to know about the different departments (produce, meat, dairy, general grocery) and which items were and weren’t taxable so we could tally them accordingly. We hit a sub-total button and told the customer the amount. Groceries were paid for either by cash or by check. If it was cash, we used our brains to count out the amount of change that was due, not having a machine tell us. And we counted it back out to the customer rather then tell them the total change they were due.

And damnit, I learned geometry, algebra and calculus in high school via math done by hand. I’ve been out of high school 48 years, and I have NEVER used any of those maths, but I managed to eke through them without some form of electronics to do the math for me! I learned how to print and how to write because texting and computers didn’t exist. Students today can seemingly master anything they want to simply by knowing how to use technology to provide them the answers of how to get to the mastery level.

What I perceive to be the biggest problem with being so attached to electronic gadgets is that we no longer really trust ourselves to be able to find a solution to something on our own. In a sense, we consider the human race to be mediocre at intelligence without an electronic gadget nearby to either at least validate what we thought was right or to tell us what is right when we are wrong. Do we ever wonder how the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty managed to be built without having an electronic source figure out what to do next and inform us?