In my early teens, I communicated with my friends on a curly corded push-button phone that hung on the kitchen wall. I conducted research for my junior high essays using my library card or an outdated set of encyclopedias my mother had purchased on an installment plan. I took notes with a Papermate ballpoint pen (blue ink for me) on wide-lined looseleaf notebook paper, and I compiled those notes in a three-ring binder. For entertainment, I watched a small screen on our enormous combo TV/stereo. Back then, we had to walk from the couch to the TV and twist the knob if we wanted to change the channel. The horror.
Now, some forty-plus years later, I look around at the technology I’m surrounded by and have even learned to take for granted. There’s the laptop computer I use to write my novels, pay my bills, and book my appointments and reservations. Though I still possess a library card, these days it allows me to use an app to check out digital books, which I read on my Kindle, and audiobooks, which I listen to with AirPods. Social media and Google are readily available on my smartphone, so I can communicate with people anywhere, anytime—though I rarely make or receive an actual phone call. Throw in my FitBit and iPad and I’m nearly always using something electronic. Even my Sleep Number bed requires electricity.
The one bit of bad news: I barely know how to use our TV anymore. With its various remotes, multiple streaming services, TiVo, and soundbar, I require my husband’s presence to operate the machine. And even when I do manage to get the TV working, there are just So. Many. Choices. I don’t even know where to begin figuring out what to watch. Luckily, my Kindle is always nearby…
But one thing I do know for certain: if the electricity goes out for any prolonged length of time, I’m in serious trouble.
What about you? Do electronics and technology enhance or diminish the quality of your life?