An Open Letter To All Electronic Devices (Including Those Not Invented Yet)
I think it’s time we all had a chat. You see, over the last 28 years, you have invaded and then permeated my life in such a subliminal way, that I didn’t even notice that you are now monopolizing my time, and the time of a lot of other people too.
And that’s not in a good way. Sure, it was very cool when I first discovered your charms, in my workplace. Remember? It was a 50-pound “portable” computer, with a cute little black screen and green text. I used to love to put in those floppy disks and create those “spreadsheets” in a fraction of the time it would take me to prepare them by hand.
I was smitten, that’s for sure. But at least it was confined to my workplace. I would go home to my land-line telephone and an analog TV set, and still have time for long walks and paperback novels.
Then about 5 years later you morphed into something called a “cellular phone” that you can put in your car. Look ma, no cord! But it was pretty darn expensive, so all I could do is wish I had one.
In 1993 you figured out a way to affordably get into my home, with what you cleverly called a “personal computer”. Oh, it was personal all right – discovering how much I loved that sound of a modem connecting, and that voice saying “welcome!”, or “you’ve got mail!”.
And, I no longer needed to write notes by hand, or have to walk to the library to do any research. I had the World Wide Web! I could spend hours upon hours looking at a bunch of cool “stuff”.
In the late 90’s I could finally have one of those cell phones of my own, and that took away a huge chunk of my downtime, since I could now be reached just about anywhere. Of course, I just had to keep it on at all times.
Around that time we all started e-mailing like crazy. What a great thing that was! All the usual grammar rules were pretty much thrown out the window, and we could simply send streams of consciousness back and forth to each other, even if we were in adjoining offices.
Here’s where things really got out of hand – with e-mail, and the PCs, we could more easily take our work home with us – because 12 hour days just weren’t enough!
But you couldn’t stop there. You had to do the one thing that decisively put us into an electronic whirlwind. You turned the cell phone into a “handheld device”.
Uh oh. Now we could take EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE. And you created all these lights, and buzzers, and ringtones, to make sure we had your attention.
And you sure got it. But that wasn’t enough. You were a co-conspirator in the creation of something called Social Media. You added Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn, and a zillion other things to take up our time, and distract us from interacting from actual human beings.
So here we are, in 2011, and I get this sense that this STILL isn’t enough. I get the feeling you want to be our lord and master. Why else would you have invented the iPad?
I ask you – no, I beg you – please let us use you in a more balanced way. In a way that allows us to actually smell the roses, listen to our children’s voices, go to an art museum, take a hike in the mountains, have a long chat with a beloved friend, or whatever else that doesn’t involve YOU.
And please, oh please, don’t tell enable this with an “app” I have to buy at an online store. With my iPad.
Thank you in advance for your consideration,