Technology Is Not Always Progress

The technology that is supposedly making our lives easier is not.  In many ways, it has made life very difficult, especially for those who are older than 45 and who are burned out by the complexity of life today.

Instead of a person answering  at a company, you get the nightmare of voice mail, now using voice (non) recognition, so that you find yourself screaming at a computer that doesn’t recognize what you’re saying. That’s usually followed by hitting random numbers in desperation, trying to either find a real person or the right department.  It’s not easier. It’s abuse of customers. And it’s just about saving money.

You can’t repair newer cars in your garage and even changing the oil yourself is not possible on some of the newest.  A technocrat described driverless cars being the norm in the next 15 years where you’re, in essence, being driven by computer code that may or may not have bugs in it. The recent crash of one was an ominous look at things to come. Imagine trying to integrate these “driverless” cars with texting and obnoxious manual drivers. The mind reels.

For every website where you have an account  you have to remember “Usernames” and “Passwords.”  The Post It notes where they’re written are either curling up with age on your desk  or already in the trash. It is not funny to be locked out of a doctor’s site you need to get on, because your tired mind can’t remember what combinations you used to get in. And there’s always more characters needed to protect from criminals trying to steal your info.

Every product you buy requires maintenance or some nonsense you have to pencil in on your schedule.   They’ll tell you that monthly, you need to do this or use this expensive conditioning product we happen to sell for $20 a bottle. My Keurig coffee maker is a prime example. It’s 18 months old, and the vinegar descaling – the descaling on the cheap – didn’t work and now it doesn’t work at all. Utter fail.  We had a home once where the previous owners had installed a spa tub with jets on it in the main bathroom. Fantastic, right? The manual said we had to buy this product from them and “once a month” do this and that and this and that to make sure “residue” didn’t build up from soap scum.  It did anyway. As IF a busy mom has time for that nonsense. With two young children to bathe at the time, I remember saying,   “Just give me a plain old bath rub I can scrub with Comet cleanser. Clean and white, for $1.50 a can. ”

Tom and I have both said we would gladly move to a 1960’s era house in terms of technology. Everything manual or basic. TV’s that didn’t require six remotes and hocus pocus so you can get the local TV channels.  TV’s like ours that I just read can be turned into listening devices because of the way they are made.   Great.  Give me a phone on the wall. Not a “smart”  phone where people text a sentence—that’s what comprises relationship now. Hey, ball’s in your court, honey. Your friend just wrote, “How ya doing?”  Nobody has time for an actual phone call much less a visit.

Yes, I hate modern life and what it’s done to the level of complexity. Just the digital photo nightmare is bad enough. I can’t delete this blog, because 10 years of our family’s life is on here. Videos I don’t know how to download are on here. If I delete this, they’ll be lost, and it’s our daughter’s childhood she will someday value. All the photo files on the computer (yes, they’re safely on a “cloud” somewhere, i.e. another computer at a tech giant) but how will my kids ever access that? We’ve forgotten the username and password. Again. (Oh, and the computer I’m writing on is telling me I have to pay more money to update my virus protection by a certain date or be at the mercy of the dark lords of hackery. It’s extortion, but who can afford to not pay it?)

It’s only going to get worse. Technocracy ultimately is going to destroy us. Mental health, social interaction, all of it has worsened in our high tech world. Yes, good has been done in certain areas. Overall, most of us over a certain age would return gladly to a simpler time when neighbors would check on each other, when people had real friends who showed up with a pot of soup when you were sick instead of sending a cheery text. “Get well soon!” A smiley face emoji is a bonus.

Tom and I were talking today about all the things we would like to simplify in our lives if we could. But the truth is, so much is out of our hands, it’s not even very possible to do anymore, particularly when you have grandchildren living far away (Facetime lets us see them), and when your isolation will only increase by shutting off your computer. Everybody else is in cyberspace. Be there or live alone even before you are elderly and unable to travel.

It’s sad that this is the way life is now. I yearn for the old simplicity, even of the 1980’s when my meanderings on this blog wouldn’t have been possible.  I’m not even kidding. But this is how we communicate now. Some irony there as I write for the readers as far away as Australia.  It’s not going to slow down any time soon. What would you like to go back to if you could? Even with inconveniences? I’ll bet a lot of people feel as I do. I read this article today on a related issue. People are supposedly more connected than ever,  but even the young are feeling the social isolation. There is no app for real friendship and human contact. Robots and artificial intelligence are all taking this to an even more psychotic level. It’s a problem of our times.

8 thoughts on “Technology Is Not Always Progress

  1. Kris says:

    What I’d like to see is kids enjoying the great outdoors instead of having their faces glued to
    ipads and phones. No matter where you go, that’s the name of the game nowadays. The
    built-in babysitters for parents. There will probably be a lot of children walking around with glasses in the very near future. I’m so thankful to have been born when I was to remember,
    relish, and appreciate all the things we once had. Thanks for the post. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to reminisce.

  2. Ron Whited says:

    I agree completely Ingrid. Even with my laptop,iPad,smart phone and smart TV, I often feel like the loneliest man on the planet.
    Even church today seems to be consumed by technology,to the point that we are to believe that God Himself inhabits social media and only social media.

  3. Mary says:

    I would like to go back to the time , when I was gone all day and listened to my answering machine of who had called while I was out and returning their calls that night or the next day …. Now, people call or text on my iPhone and are annoyed if I don’t respond within 5 minutes or less… They think I’m rude if I don’t or am treating them badly.. it’s all about me , myself and I NOW!!! What ever happened to patience and kindness.. BTW.. I don’t care for social media because everyone is in everyone’s life monitoring what they are doing! Sounds like the women in Scripture who go house to house being busybodies. Just my opinion😌

  4. Ingrid says:

    Mary, I recently told someone I basically don’t text unless it’s an emergency with my kids. Coming late to texting, I have never mastered it. I wildly hit the wrong tiny little keys on the phone and I look either unhinged or illiterate or both when I read back what I sent. It’s ridiculous. I love to talk on the phone and hear a human voice and I just will not have a lengthy discussion on text or messaging. Nope. I do text two words when I get one. “Call me.” That shocks the Millennials and even some older people, but sorry. I am old-fashioned and won’t apologize for it.

  5. Ingrid says:

    Ron, I get it. A neighbor here in my village recently invited me to lunch. She’s retired now and has the time. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to speak with a real person, sit in her kitchen and chat. We have gone for walks together, and I’ve had her here as well. It is the way things should be with humans. No screens in between. Real people. Real friends.

  6. Carolyn says:

    Exactly. I agree, this technology-based society is incredibly unhealthy in many ways. I’ve acquiesced to texting, but I staunchly refuse to join the “social media” world of Facebook, twitter, and the like. I have no desire to be a part of that. Since everyone else apparently wants to exist only as a cyber-person, it leaves us a strange anomaly, flesh and blood humans who would rather go for a walk with you in a park, than send you the latest ‘tweet’. Like you said, Ingrid, real people, real friends. As they say, apparently that has “gone the way of the dinosaurs”.

    Frankly, when people are behind a screen, they behave differently (generally for the worse). I think of all the ways various online evangelicals have treated their brothers and (especially) their sisters, in the name of discernment or contending for the faith. It’s sad.

    The social isolation created by this online illusionary world – as that article addressed – is exacerbated by the phoniness in the one place where you’d hope there’d be genuine love: the church. You addressed that in a previous blog.

    Anyhow, since we have to endure this virtual nightmare together, I thought I’d share a helpful hint that often works (not always but often enough) when you’re calling those mechanized answering services… keep repeating “CUSTOMER SERVICE” when the computerized voice ask you to speak. Eventually you will get to a real human being.

  7. Carolyn says:

    I do want to add one clarification: though my husband and I have certainly seen phoniness from some who we thought were our friends, we have met some believers who truly do care. I didn’t mean to imply that all believers are phony, or all churches are only full of phoniness. I think what I said may have come across as such, for which I ask forgiveness.

    That article about social isolation just brought to mind a few particularly painful situations when those we had invested greatly in, and thought cared, ended up discarding us. Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean things are made right. Often times, sadly, they are not. When the church doesn’t function in love like it ought, it is a truly tragic thing.

    That said, when you find believers who do truly love and care, it makes all the difference. One of our dear friends – now home with the Lord – was always one to visit in person and have a cup of tea with you. There is no substitute for that kind of one-to-one interaction. A voice on the phone, a letter in the mail, or a personal visit mean so much more than a text or a tweet. Consider those you know. There is going to be someone who could use encouragement. Instead of a text or Facebook, why not write a personal note and mail it to them? I bet it would mean the world.

    Another positive example: we just had a wonderful opportunity to spend several days with some genuine, down to earth believers. We cannot say enough how much the time spent in person with those particular souls refreshed us, and my words cannot express how thankful we are for those precious days we shared. We will remember our time together as a true spiritual oasis.

  8. Andrew says:

    Excellent observation Ingrid and so true. Many people have become truly disconnected in this connected world. Many have lost the ability to really communicate, or worse, have never learned how to. Great article…. and g’day from Australia.

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