Is Technology Your Master?

There are moments where I hear my heartbeat and swear it is like the a giant clock, tick-tocking the days of my life away.

A pair of noise cancelling headphones rest upon my ears to help me focus upon the important tasks and not upon the screams of children or leaf blowers that roar outside my door and window.

The Who is asking me to Join Together With the Band but I am thinking about days long gone when the guys and I would sit poolside singing this and other songs while drinking beers as we watched girls in bikinis look for the best places to tan.

Those were heady days of college when it really felt like summer was endless and the opportunities life provided didn’t come with the same challenges and restrictions a father more than twenty years out of school stares at.

The kid I was could wander onto a packed floor at the fraternity house and pretend to have enough rhythm to move with whatever music was playing. If he wasn’t in class or sitting with the guys you might have found him studying, a pair of headphones on his ears, walkman at his side.

He didn’t have the luxury of loading 10,000 songs on his phone or his MP3 player so he did his best to fill two sides of a cassette tape with songs that were appropriate for whatever situation he found himself in.

Today we smile and laugh at the memories and talk about the present as it leads into the future.

The recently married on their way to being divorced men talk about how they never had to worry about accidentally butt dialing a girl or wondering if the text they sent was stupid.

I look at them and ask if they think it was easier to date then or now and a wave of contradictory responses fly my way.

Is Technology Your Master?

The kids are sitting on the couch trying not to look like I am boring them. I tell them the answer to the question should be no, always no but they push back and ask me to defend my habits.

I have two laptops, a cellphone, a tablet, some iPods and two digital cameras plus an assortment of other odds and ends. I gave the old laptop to the children and I use the other for my stuff.

So even though that picture isn’t of my gear I could probably produce something similar. But what I have has been acquired over time and because I take care of my stuff it mostly lasts, mostly being the operative word.

Planned obsolescence, shoddy construction and the occasional accident have helped to motivate new purchases as has personal desire. But if push comes to shove you’d find very little was purchased before the need was great because the cash flow was small.

But there are huge differences between the childhood my children are experiencing and that I had. Mine was analog while they are in the midst of a digital age.

They don’t know what a busy signal is and I don’t know if they recognize the call waiting beep. Dial tones, cords and cables are things they don’t think of just as it doesn’t occur to them that from first grade until I graduated high school I walked to school. Ok, correction, my senior year I got a car and started driving then, but you get the point.

We grew up during the days of mothers kicking us out and forbidding entry until darkness fell and roamed anywhere and everywhere our feet or bikes could take us.

Now I tell them it is time to turn off the Kindle, the phone the Wii or whatever device they are using because sunshine is best felt on our backs and not through windows or pictures.

My Face Is Up/Down Here

We walk into the pub and grab a table. The girls have thrown on a pair of shorts and tops and are joining us for a pitcher of beer.

A game is on the television and we are trying to talk and watch. In the midst of distraction some of us are told by the women where our eyes should be focused.

Sheepish grins roll across our faces and we make eye contact. This is a pivotal moment for some of the people at the table. In a few hours they’ll find time for each other and no one else.

Morning will come and they’ll walk out of an apartment and head back to theirs and two people will wonder when they should call. One of the guys will be screamed at because she doesn’t know her roommate is on the phone for hours and that the guy tried to call but was unable to get through.

Decades later they laugh about it and we hear her tell the story again about how angry she was that he didn’t have the decency  to walk her home nor call her.


The Temptations are singing (I Know) I’m Losing You and I am thinking about how much has changed in all of our worlds. Certain experiences for the children are no different than they were for us and yet some are downright foreign to me.

iTunes moves to I’m A Man by The Spencer Davis Group and I am back in my Camaro. It is a ’77 with steel bumpers and wheels made to exceed the speed limit.

This was on a couple of the cassettes and any time it started to play my foot grew heavier.

I close my eyes and wonder if I can turn back time if I put the pedal all the way down on our Honda Odyssey. The thought makes me smile but the truth is I don’t miss much from those days.

Somewhere inside my head there is a 21 year-old kid screaming at me to wake up and remember endless summers and opportunities that stretched out farther than the eye could see.

He thinks I am blind and old but what he doesn’t know is that I can see clearly that some of those exits on the endless roads didn’t lead where he thought they would. I see the pot holes and wrecks of other vehicles.

But that doesn’t mean I am unwilling to take those roads now, I am just more careful than I once was. Got too many responsibilities and the recovery time isn’t what it was when I was 21.

I love tech, but it is not my master. I much prefer to experience things in person than through digital means.

What about you?

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  1. Brian Sorrell November 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I love this. Here’s to the analog life and may it live forever. I’m off to mount my Kossfire 110 loudspeakers to the wall because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna drop five bills on a soundbar and subwoofer while these machines still rock and roll.

  2. Larry November 5, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    They didn’t lead where I thought they would either. Ain’t life surprising.
    My kids are crazy for their kindles and are content for hours at a time on it. I sometimes wish they would just get out of the house and have friends around to play with on the streets – no even a playdate.

    • The JackB November 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Life is unpredictable in so many ways. I am thankful for some surprises. The hours on the electronics concerns me. I do it too, but I know the difference and remember a different life.

  3. Stan Faryna November 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I knew that wasn’t your desk. [laughing] The India books were a dead giveaway.

    My desk is something else and some people often wonder if I could breathe without technology. I can.

    But the cables on the floor remind me of a pit of snakes from an Indiana Jones movie. I frequently have three separate devices (each their own processors and screens) sitting in front of me. But I think the problem starts to suggest itself when you see the back up power situation I have going on in the war room. [grin]

    None of which will function if there is a massive EMP burst from a nuclear warhead exploded a mile or so over DC. In that scenario, however, I do not have to worry. Because I’ll be going to meet my maker if they drop 1000 megatons on our hallowed halls of democracy.

    • The JackB November 6, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      @faryna:disqus Nope, that EMP won’t take you out you’ll be part of the new world we’ll build. Don’t ask me how I know this because I just do. 🙂

      How do you know I wouldn’t have books on India? It is not on my list of places to visit.

      The snakes and cable–I know that visual because I live it.

  4. Carolyn Nicander Mohr November 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Tech is quickly becoming the master of us all. I just spent the evening with a friend who is starting to date again after her marriage of 22+ years ended. She was touting saying that you just place an order for the type of guy you want and then you get to pick. She met a guy and said how much she loved dating.

    Times are changing!

    My kids don’t know what a busy signal is either. My father doesn’t have call waiting so my girls are very confused when we call him and the line is busy.

    Remember when we had to wait for a sibling to get off the phone for us to use it? And we had to agree on a live TV show to watch?

    When I tell my girls about what life was like during my childhood, they ask whether I had electricity back then. I don’t know whether they’re serious…

    • The JackB November 6, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      @wonderoftech:disqus One of my oldest friends met his wife with Match. He raved about it. Sometimes I tease him about getting a fast food bride. 🙂

      I often miss call waiting and the idea that people require instant access to us. I don’t know that it makes that much sense.

      My parents put in a second line because they got tired of waiting for the phone and boy do I remember the fights about what television show to watch. Our kids really are living in a different world.

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