Aspen Princess: Our world of technology is only going to get worse
October 8, 2015
So Tuesday I was driving home from Aspen when my phone started to buzz incessantly with text messages.
Not able to resist, I picked up the phone and glanced at the screen, trying to glean which of the messages required my immediate attention.
Naturally, none of them did, at least not really. It's not like I'm the CEO of some big corporation or a movie star on a press junket for a new film or even a mom who needs to make sure her son isn't in the emergency room (that chapter of my life will begin here pretty shortly, though, so stay tuned).
But still, I felt compelled to respond. God forbid one of my friends felt that I was ignoring them. My brother and I are constantly arguing over instant messages on WhatsApp, mostly because it's a lousy way to communicate, bouncing around topics so fast I'm never sure what exactly it is that we're talking about or what I might have typed that he's reacting to from six comments ago.
So I picked up the phone and held it up so I could see the screen and the road and still try to type with the edge of my thumb. But I was constantly hitting the wrong keys, so the auto correct was spelling all these random words, so I had to delete them and start over.
"Im di" I began, so it thought I wanted to say "division" instead of "driving."
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I deleted and corrected. "I'm drib," so then it spelled out "dribble."
Frustrated, I hit the little microphone thing and tried to dictate. "I'm driving, period," I said, trying to annunciate clearly. But it totally didn't understand me. I hit the microphone button again.
"I'M DRIVING, PERIOD. TALK TO YOU LATER, EXCLAMATION POINT!"
I felt like a crazy person, like the idiot who thinks that by hollering at someone who doesn't speak their language they'll make themselves understood.
My brother ignored my message and continued to berate me for something I'd typed 20 minutes ago that had irritated him.
So I typed, "I hare communicating this wSy it drives me crazy!!"
And then I stared manically at the little bubble with the dots, waiting for his response, wondering if this was all worth creating a 50-car pileup during rush hour in Snowmass Canyon as I glanced between the screen and the road, making sure to keep a safe distance between myself and the car in front of me.
I guess what I'm getting at is that I can't believe we've gotten to a point in our society where this is how we communicate, by holding this infuriating, bossy device in front of our faces so it's always coming between us and the world. Yet no one wants to talk on the phone anymore. God forbid you should actually have a two-way conversation that doesn't cause carpal tunnel. I mean, how many times have you phoned someone who just texted you, only to have them not answer?
A friend of mine just posted a video on Facebook of a bunch of young girls at a sporting event with their noses in their screens.
She wrote, "What is wrong with everyone!!! Put down your phones and live!!"
I resisted the urge to post a snarky comment like, "By posting this on Facebook, are you not doing the exact same thing right now?"
But I totally get where she is coming from, and plus, it is my knee-jerk reaction to be obnoxious when it comes to commenting on other people's Facebook posts. I'm working on that.
Here's the thing: It's only going to get worse.
The October issue Vanity Fair features Mark Zuckerberg on the cover with a feature about a $2 billion investment he just made in Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality headset that projects digital images onto the real world. Zuckerberg predicts this will be the next big computing platform and believes it will evolve from these goggles to glasses and even contact lenses. He says it will change the world.
Other emerging technologies we need to worry about/prepare for: artificial intelligence, drones and driverless cars (in which case texting and driving would no longer be a problem).
Now that I'm about to have a kid, the future takes on new meaning. What will the world look like when my son is a teenager? We think it's bad now, with our faces buried in our smartphones, cutting us off from one another and from the world that's right in front of our noses. But what will it be like when the line between the virtual world and the real world is nothing more than a thin piece of plastic draped over our eyeball with no way to differentiate who is looking at what? What then?
I have a friend whose mother is 90 years old, and one of her favorite things is to go to the Apple store and sit at the genius bar where she hands a young employee a $100 bill to teach her new technology. She has an iPhone, an iPad and a Facebook page. She doesn't fight change; she embraces it. She says that's what keeps her young.
I have always been somewhat technology averse. I remember listening to my roommate log on to dial-up Internet, back when it would ping and pong and make a big racket and AOL would announce, "You've got mail," and it annoyed the hell out of me. I would just roll my eyes and go back to writing in my journal or reading my magazine.
But it doesn't matter how I feel about technology — I'm wasting my breath. Not only does resisting technology appear to be an uphill battle, but resisting change both ages and dates you — it's not a good look.
I guess I have no choice but to embrace technology and change — especially if it will no longer involve thumb-typing.
The Aspen Princess is running late. Email your love to alisonmargo@ gmail.com.
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