While I kept abreast with technology, the ever increasing speed of it sometimes catches me off guard and out of pocket. Man's quest to do better, faster and easier is natural but takes away some of the romantics, pace and peace of what we sometimes yearn for. I get caught off-guard mainly because I love music and do photography and subsequently, get attracted to gadgets. It is a pity that we fall for ourselves in acknowledging the bombardment of adverts and displays of high tech stuff that “you cannot do without”.
We got so used to our cell phones, a life without them would be impossible – although sometimes we detest that there is reception on our holiday. Sales reps and graphic designers would not do without their iPads; writers, marketing folk and architects cannot function without a notebook. Joe Soap has to have a GPS, even if it is just to get to his local supermarket – or to hear Tracey’s voice in a British accent. We produce film, cut music, teach, learn, communicate, shop, and plan all on a little box with a huge memory; at home, at the office, in the car or under the thorn tree on the farm. When it is time to relax, we plonk in front of the DSTV play a DVD on the home theatre system or watch some U-Tube action.
This is the advancement of technology which man made possible, and I believe that most of us embrace it.
My dad used to do photography and did his own development of the pictures in his make-shift darkroom at home - which doubled up as the washing room during the day. This inspired me to buy my first SLR camera (you know, the one with capacity of interchanging lenses); a second hand one with a few lenses and tripod. I'd like to believe that I had a cult following of some of my family and my dog, but the family part turned out to be just an ego boost. These days the most ordinary picture can be enhanced to such an extent in Photoshop, that it takes a good eye at 100% magnification to see the imperfections. No chemicals, expensive lab enhancements or development waiting time required. The time taken to read the light, manually focus and ensure good composition of a shot was gone. The expectation and awe to see a black and white picture slowly taking shape in a bath of developer was gone. The hours spent close with my dad under an eerie red light, were gone.
Don’t get me wrong in reminiscing about the “manual” days, I did my game time on the Playstation and spent many a weekend (and up to 3 a.m. weekdays) solving the world’s problems, checking out Lara Croft’s boobs and driving my custom modified Cusco Scooby around the Midway track on Gran Tourismo, but the “thing” took my mind and I had to rid myself of the addiction. I too do my banking, writing, shopping, editing of photos, projects, budget, communication and searching on the computer. I too feel naked without my cell phone, feel lost when thunderclouds obscure the satellite reception and feel deprived if I cannot go on-line.
The concern is the youth. It takes quite an effort to lead a balanced life as it is, even without electronic technology. I am not perplexed that us humans are more and more diagnosed with depression and anxiety, get given prescriptions for sleeplessness and weight control, get hooked on uppers, downers, alcohol and Red Bull; or just have a nervous breakdown. I have witnessed friends of my kids succumb to heroin, I’ve seen them wiping themselves out due to intoxication, I’ve seen them having sex behind the shed (yeah, I did that too, but not at 13!), and I’ve heard some of them committed suicide. Already some of our population in the 20's and upward bracket are battling to cope, how will our children ever grow into coping?
Somehow we have to get the balance right. Somehow we, as parents, have to instil an environment for our children to be able to lead a balanced life. Us; who are so busy making money to pretty our homes and spend weekends buying “stuff”. Us, who just want to relax and switch off when we get home after an energy sapping day. Us, who both work as parents and have to have adult playtime together, and need our alone time as well. Is it not time to set boundaries in terms of the use and purchase of electronic technology, or at least, stop buying into an idea that a tablet, games console, computer, smart phone and an unlimited internet connection for a teen is a necessity? Has it not dawned on some of us that seven hours straight on an Xbox, is not conducive to growth of skeleton and muscle?
Yes, there are responsible families who create an environment of balance and parents who are models to their children, especially of how to cope with the information age, but a fair amount of parents I have come across are too happy if the teens (and younger) are out of sight – doing whatever. How would we stem the tide of ourselves taking us over, if we do not teach our children the balance of life? Would future generations not just carry on until there is nothing left? I think we will keep on progressing ourselves into regression, or at least until our minds cannot take anymore – which for a lot of adults is already the case.
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