Sunday, April 14, 2013


It's fascinating to watch my kids interract with technology - it makes me think back to own my low-tech childhood when the biggest wow gadget was a microwave oven the size of TV.

Today's kids automatically touch every screen they see - expecting to interact with it by sliding their finger.

They expect things to be fast and accessible - they have no patience for a latop that takes a minute to start up, nor the antiquated mousepad.

They don't understand why I still need a key to open my front door. "Why don't you just press the button?" they ask. Fair point, I think, why haven't house door locks evolved in the same way as car or office door locks?

I hate having to fumble for the right key to physically stick it in the lock and turn, bags and children and phones falling off me.

My nearly four year old girl is currently obsessed with my iPhone, she's discovered dressing up games and navigates her way easily around my apps and photos.

I rarely get to use it when she's around. I get tech withdrawal - thinking someone must be sending me a message, I'm missing something, I need it back.

I remember my first mobile phone. I was 25 and working for a technology mag in London, commuting from Brighton every day. I thought I was so cool on the train every day sending texts and calling people to tell them I'd be late.

This was my first phone, it had a grey screen and it allowed for only two lines on the screen at once. I had to do lots of scrolling to read texts.  

Because I was reviewing gadgets, Nokia then sent me what I thought was the beezneez of phones - the first WAP phone - about 4 months before anyone else got one. The looks from people on the train when they saw this amazing gadget!

Back then we called the internet on mobiles WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and it was total rubbish. I remember the best thing I could do with this phone was to bring up a list of movies at my local cinema. And that took 10 minutes to download. Yet it was new and we saw potential. 

How impressed we were in 1999 that technology had evolved to give us a pocket device that could do so much.

Fast forward 14 years and now look at us. The touch screen has advanced the evolution of devices more than ever expected.

Everyone carries mini devices of magic that do more than we ever believed possible.

This is the one that amazes me each and every day: My iPhone 5.

My moto is: You're never alone with an iPhone. Should I need to wait around for anything now, I'm no longer bored. I just check my email, look up something on google and catch up with all my groups on Facebook. I relish this check-in time. Waiting rooms have become enjoyable spaces.

The result is I'm more connected now than I ever was. But it's all virtual. I rarely make phone calls. It's all done over email, text or WhatsApp.

I may be using social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest on this phone, but is it real? I may be in touch with more people than I've ever been in touch with, but it is just ephemeral commuication?

We dip in and out of people's lives more than ever. Long-lost friends get a quick 'like' and comment on their latest photo, and I invite people I hardly know to share my life and read all my gory thoughts in my blog.

When I had babies I hid away for a while, went internal as I struggled to cope with a new paradigm. Technology allowed me to open that door - to be 'out there' again, to become more external, exposed, for the world to see. I wonder whether this will come back to bite me in the future, when online media is public property and normal kids grow up in a faux-celebrity limelight because of competing internet profiles.

Looking back 20 years, the technology we used seems laughably primitive, yet it protected us - the reason I bought my first mobile fifteen years ago was for safety because I was often commuting late at night.

Technology now exposes us. To bullying (for children in the schoolyard), to ridicule and to stalking.

It's a very fine line to tread. I know bloggers who write anonymously for the safety of their lives and their children. I know people who won't post pictures on the internet of their children, yet I regularly sync my phone albumns with my Facebook. Am I too exposed?

Maybe when Facebook becomes nothing more than a sponsored medium and personal profiles are lost among the glut of competitions and promotions (it's nearly there now!), the tech-backlash will begin. Blogs will start to disappear and twitter will go quiet and we'll all go back to picking up the phone and having proper long conversations again.

But where will we find the time?

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1 comment:

  1. Love this post - really interested in this topic, have been thinking about it myself too. It's true that we've never bored, and I truly believe that the internet is an amazing connection to the outside world to new mothers who are trying to figure it out but maybe feeling lonely. But it takes something from us too I think, and more than just our time. I too am wondering where it will end and how the next generation will look back on it all....


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