Monday, March 21, 2011

Waiting to Teleport...

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first words into a telephone when he shouted "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you!" after knocking over some battery acid according to and every history book around. While Bell revolutionized business and communication with his invention, there is no possible way, he could have imagined phones as they are today. People do still make the occasional call to chat on our phones, but more and more often, we use them to text, to update statuses, to read the paper, to goggle information, to calculate tips, check our stock portfolios, etc... We don't carry our phones in our pockets as much as we carry extremely small computers. Is this a good thing?

Yesterday, as Student Council was traveling home from the State conference, I received a call from a former member of the organization.  She was stranded in a city about an hour and a half away from home, and wanted to know if I could stop on my way home to pick her up so she could make it home safely.  No problem, I said.  It was on our way and within thirty minutes, she was safely on her way home as part of our little convoy.  How did the former student know to call me?  Simple.  She posted a plea on Facebook to which another former teacher responded. Anyone near this city headed to that city?  The teacher responded that she knew I was because I had posted a status earlier mentioning where I was.  What could have been an extremely stressful day for a teenage girl and her parents became a small blip on the screen of life. Technology makes life so simple at times.

At Christmas time, I was shopping with my mother at the local Stein Mart.  I realized that I had forgotten my coupon at home that would have saved me 20% off my purchases.  In these tight economic times, I cannot afford to just throw money away like that. I knew the same coupon was on the store's website, so I logged on, pulled the site up, and asked if the cashier could accept this version of the coupon.  She did, and I saved money on the spot. Technology is amazing at times like this.

This weekend, I checked my email, this blog, the weather, and directions on this phone. I was never inconvenienced or out of touch.  As a chaperone on a school trip, this was a great thing. I needed to be reachable. When Taylor is serving in other parts of the country or the world, I want to be reachable at all times.  But.... I saw alligators and dolphins up close. I listened to a naturalist explain how Great Egrets broke off small branches to build their nests and a boat pilot explain how the colonial rice planters used tidal waters to flood and drain their fields.  Magnolia Plantation is like stepping back in time, except the little computer in my pocket kept reminding me that I wasn't back in time. I was totally connected to the people who were NOT with me; I should have been simply enjoying the plantation. At times, technology can steal the simple pleasures simply by dividing your attention.

Flip through your childhood memories. Stuck in the backseat as you drove to wherever you were vacationing with your family, you played the license plate game or I-Spy or Going on a picnic or you TALKED.  No one sat beside their brother or sister and texted someone far away. Technology spearates us at times rather than bringing us closer.  Have you ever been in a room and text the person next to you? Was it a positive life-affirming message or something snarky that you would never had said out loud but felt safe texting it? Yep.. technology makes us a crueler at times..

We are becoming a generation of people reliant on technology.  I don't need to understand a map; there is GPS.  I don't need to visit the library; I have a Kindle (which I absolutely LOVE, but still...). Blind date?  Nope.. I will Facebook stalk you first. Teenagers text rather than talk.  Then, the teens write essays using letters instead of words.  I do not lol when I see this btw.. There are negatives.  Do they outweigh the positives?

I don't know....  Skype will allow me to see my child even if he is far away protecting the country.  People are reading this blog and helping me figure out how to deal with the empty nest that is coming. Teachers can help get former students safely home when they send out a distress call...  Now, I just need an app for my phone that will let me teleport to wherever Taylor is stationed when I miss him so badly it hurts... Is there an App for that?

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