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Two Sides of Technology

Some time ago, just after mankind had transitioned from stone and chisel, to pen and paper, I wandered out and entered the working world. Things were different back then. Meetings were generally attended in person. Conference calls were rare and a video-conference could only be found in a Jetsons’ cartoon or in a futuristic movie. There were no laptops, iPhones, tablets (the electronic kind) and for better or worse, life moved at a slower, steadier and healthier pace. Spreadsheets were done on paper and the only people who read them were upper management and analyst. Back in those days, just after the Stone Age, we were not all expected to know how to do everything. People generally mastered one trade and they usually performed their craft pretty well. It’s worth noting that prior to the electronic gizmo age, us humans did some pretty amazing things.

Flash forward thirty-five years and you’ll find me pretty much up to speed, using all the same gadgets everyone else uses, zooming along at a blinding pace that cannot possibly be healthy or logical for any species. We live today in the modern world and there’s no slowing down until the eventual electronic crash brings us all back to a reality that is not battery powered. I presume, other than watching the Walking Dead, the younger generation cannot fathom what that will be like. You’ll just have to take it from an old timer when I say it wasn’t all that bad and we seemed to have managed just fine for the first 300,000 years or so. But I’m not going there today.

What I am going to do is zip through ‘a day in my modern life’, so to speak and let you guys, young and old, decide whether or not technology is truly the answer. I’m going to let you decide whether or not the digitally controlled world we have created is really better than the world where we slowly and methodically worked hand in hand with other like-minded people.

Last Tuesday I woke up in St. Pete, Florida at 4:30 a.m., showered, coffee’d up and headed to the airport. At the airport, I pulled up my ticket on my iPhone Wallet and scanned it at the automated check-in. (No need for me to have human interaction). Then I was off through security where everything, including me, was electronically scanned. After putting everything back where it belonged, I went to find a place to sit and start checking emails. An hour later I was on a plane listening to some music on my headphones unwinding a little before landing and hitting the road running.

At 9:15, I landed in DC where I used my iPhone to get a rental car, and my iPhone to pull up Google Maps to get directions to where I was heading. Oh… before the rental car or the map, I called my wife. The same wife I had before iPhones were ever invented. I told her I loved her and was already looking forward to getting back home. Then I headed off to my first meeting. The day continued for the next eight or so hours with emails, phone calls, a conference call, meetings, updated lists on Google Keeper and last but not least, pulling up my hotel reservation in my email (on my iPhone) and checking into my temporary home. It was quite the day. By 10:30, after only eighteen short hours, I was snoring. This is where technology really kicked into high gear.

I don’t like using hotel alarm clocks simply because you never know whether or not they will actually work until the following morning when it either does or does not go off. So before going to bed, I set my iPhone alarm to 6:00 a.m.

At 6:00 a.m. sharp, my phone alarm began bleeping. I reached over and shut it off and climbed out of bed. With my eyes nearly closed, I wandered into the bathroom where my day really kicked into gear. As I stepped into the bathroom the new age, high-tech, fully automated lights blasted about a gazillion watts of light without me so much as saying, “Lights please.” I stumbled backwards in shock due to the sheer power of the lights. One arm flew up in front of my eyes as if to protect me from some sort of death ray while the other shot out towards the light switch hoping my fumbling fingers could find and shut off the death ray before it killed me. The third time my hand smacked against the wall, I got the lights turned off. The room, which had been sort of dark before, now appeared pitch black as my eyes struggled to readjust to the darkness. I turned to step towards the toilet, but the bathroom was small and as I said, pitch black, and WHAM! I cranked my forehead on the edge of the door that was swung halfway open and apparently right in front of me.

Now I was standing in the middle of the pitch-black bathroom with stars flashing all around me, my head ringing and my hand pressed against what was likely a cut on my forehead. With a deep breath I fumbled around and found the death ray switch again and turned the gazillion watt lights back on. Sure enough, when I lifted my hand off my forehead blood began to trickle out of the cut. That’s when I thought, "Damn! I love technology." Next week when I head back up to DC, I’m putting on sunglasses when I climb out of bed.

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