I Love You, Facebook
I Love You, Facebook
I can know what’s happening in the lives of my friends around the globe. I see pictures of their newborn babies, I hear what’s exciting them or frustrating them, I am reminded often of their presence and of the memories we share. It reminds me to spend more time with them when they are around.
I Love You, Skype
You allow me to talk to loved ones and friends across the globe, and not only that, but to see their faces, for as many hours as we wish. You make it a lot easier for long-distance relationships to be healthy. And all for free.
I Love You, YouTube
You inspire me almost instantaneously with all the great dance performances and competitions you have, often only a few hours after the event. You have allowed us to archive many of the greatest performances and happenings in our media history. You make it so that someone who is interested in Lindy Hop merely has to look it up on YouTube to find it, unlike fifteen years ago, when there was hardly a trace of footage or instruction on the internet. You make it easy to see movie trailers and hilarious videos and for people to display their talents to the world. Someone with a lingering ADD can now entertain himself in small five minute chunks without having to watch a bland television show. You allow an incredible amount of education, much more than people realize. For instance, I didn’t know how to tie certain tie-knots, or play a guitar rhythm with a true Gypsy Le Pompe, but now I do.
I Love You, Kindle
I now carry a hundred books with me wherever I go, so no matteer what I’m in the mood for, I can find something to read. I have learned dozens of great new words, such as the phrase “Terpsichorean Badinage;” this blog’s new surname. And it’s much easier to read Faulkner, because I simply touch a word and the definition appears. I don’t have to take breaks from holding up the book whenever I read Tolstoy. I can read whatever I want without people judging me based on the cover. When I’m using a Kindle, people in general tend to not ask me what I’m reading, thus allowing me to actually read it (a pet peeve of mine). It’s synced across all my devices, so I can pick up almost any electronic I own and continue where I left off in my book. (Something I often can’t even do with a real book.) Despite my romantic attachment to actual books, I can’t deny that a lot less trees are being destroyed for my reading hobby.
I Love You, Smart Phones
I can check emails and basically do hours of business work while sitting at an airport. I can text people messages for simple affairs so it won’t disrupt the flow of their day the way a phone call would. Assuming I’ve remembered to charge my phone, I won’t get lost. I am thirty seconds away from knowing where the nearest Indian restaurant is. I am locked in several deadly games of scrabble with five of my friends and my mom. I can instantly find the answer to that question on Wikipedia, thus saving us a long argument and a short time where we don’t speak to one another until one of us gets to a computer and discovers where the phrase “dressed to the nines” actually comes from. (We’re not exactly sure; “to the nines” seemed to be a generic superlative phrase, not connected strictly to dressing. “Dressed to the nines” just seemed to stick around for some reason.)
Occassionally I’ll overhear someone say “Man, technology has just gotten out of hand.” Or perhaps they’ll mention the bucolic idea that life without so much technology is superior. (An argument that usually doesn’t come up in a medical emergency.) When I overhear these conversations, I’ll often want to barge in and tell them my side of the story. Especially if they’re swing dancers, because I think our scene has as a whole is so obviously strengthened by it. And may not even exist as a community if it weren’t for technology.
Technology is a tool, and like any tool, it can make your life better if you use it properly, or worse if you use it improperly. If you find you are addicted to Facebook and let it rule your life, then limit your use of it. If you find your phone distracting you too much, then put it down and finish your conversation (or driving). You can claim people need to learn more personal discipline (and I would agree), but I wouldn’t claim the world needs less technology — it has dramatically improved my life. And that’s coming from someone who loves leatherbound books, vintage clothes, and only occasionally reads much of anything from after the 1930s.
The next time you hear an anti-technology conversation, feel free to add my side of the story. It’s the least I can do for technology, after all it’s done for me.
[This article was inspired by several close friends who I have had great conversations about this with over the last couple of years.]