Technology: 12 Ways It Makes Life Better
Thank you to all the technologists who make life easier.
Posted Dec 02, 2014
Just for the record, I'm thankful for my family, my work, my country, and those fighting to keep me safe. I deeply appreciate the gift of a beautiful sunrise, a long walk on the beach, and a swim in the ocean, and every day I get to be on the planet with my three over sized, goofy yellow labs, Polly, Dorothy, and Hank.
But I want to offer a special thanks to the technologists of the world -- all those who work anonymously in the world's labs and engineering departments to come up with the circuits, code, and contraptions that have combined to change life as I know it.
I know that technology sometimes cheapens our lives, diverts us from deeper meanings, pollutes our world, and, in the wrong hands, even threatens our lives. (It can also break our hearts, as I learned when my hard drive crashed, taking with it months of work that even computer geniuses working in a "clean room" in California could not bring back to me. Note: Back up your files, people.)
I like it anyway.
I know that science is making people healthier, the world cleaner, societies safer, transportation faster, humanity more hopeful. And I appreciate all of that. I really do. But this "thank you" is all about me, a member of a generation that knows that "cc" on your email actually stands for "carbon copy." (Those sheets of paper with ink on them that you put between two pages of blank paper in a typewriter are thankfully all gone.)
In ways my children never can, because they were swaddled in technology's benevolence, I have points of reference. I remember the heady liberation of my first three-minutes-per-page fax machine, and my first cellphone, which was the size of a brick. I've been in line at the post office.
To all the technologists who have made my life easier, faster, and better, thank you for (in no particular order):
1. The fact that I don't have to get out of the chair every time I want to change a channel.
2. The more than 600 channels beamed from space. I only watch seven of them, but I like knowing they're there. You never know when you'll want to see a cheetah chase a wildebeest.
3. Putting the great, global brain of the Internet at my fingertips. Need the current population of Zimbabwe? It's 15,149,838.
4. GPS maps and the soothing voice of the lady who tells me when and where to turn. She's a genius.
5. Cable television programming that gives me The Honorable Woman instead of Wife Swap.
6. The fact that one device that can be smaller than a deck of cards holds my appointments, my work, and contact information for everybody I know. When necessary, I can use it to make a phone call.
7. Text messaging and Snapchat. Sure, it's ruining the English language, faces look freaky, and it's not very personal. But with a husband constantly traveling, a son running his own business, a daughter at college, and me walking the quiet halls of an empty nest, I'll take it. After all, "Luv U" is now a universal language.
8. Twitter, which is great and so important and lets the folks who sign up on my site know what I had for lunch and where I ate it. I can even post a picture of the food.
9. Instagram, which shows important ones in my life (and some I don't even know or want to know) the most private parts of it -- even if they are not particularly interested.
10. The fact that I'm able to find the perfect pair of shoes without leaving the house -- and then send them back for free when I realize they aren't as perfect as they looked.
11. Giant TV screens and theater-quality sound, with nobody munching popcorn right behind me or with a giant head right in front of me. Just three big yellow dogs in my lap, snoring.
12. The fact that I can buy the two songs from a CD that I want without paying for the eight that I don't.
Most of all, dear technologists, thank you for putting me in charge. You have moved power from the center to the edge. You have broken down the barriers. You have removed the filters. You have created an electronic democracy that Thomas Jefferson would have loved.
I look forward to hydrogen cars, household robots, and Moon colonies.
Until then, thanks again for my iPad.