Technology. It’s great when it works. That’s my basic opinion on it. But what if it’s not so great? What if we’re slowly losing our lives to it and spending more time in the tech world than in the real world? Spending more time with the smartphone and the iPad and the laptop than the rock and the sage and the moss? Turn the tech off and go climbing!!!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In my lifetime, we used to have rotary phones. They were definitely hardwired to the wall and you couldn’t take them anywhere. Pay phones were abundant, and you always carried around change for when you weren’t going to be home by the time Mom and Dad’s curfew rolled around and the streetlights came on. The phone cord on the home phone with the push-buttons, which came next, was always stretched to the max from trying to reach as far as you could with it. Pay phones were still abundant. This was the age of beepers for emergency and medical personnel. They had to carry around change in their pockets, too. Satellite phones were always available to the military at that time and the rich could afford to get their hands on them, too. Then came the first cellular phones. What? A “cordless” phone? What was this witchcraft?! They were big, but they didn’t require a cord going into the wall. You had to buy service, though. Service for a cordless phone? How strange! Then came flip phones and the Blackberry. The Blackberry was all the rage, and everyone who was anyone had one! Phones began to get smaller. Pay phones started disappearing because more and more people had cell phones. Landlines stopped being used because people began using their cell phones as their primary home numbers to be contacted on. A funny trend is that larger screens on smartphones are now the sought-after feature…
There was another revolution going on. Remember the computers that needed a cartridge 3/4 the size of an 8-track to be inserted for them to work? I do. Do you remember the actual 5″ floppy floppy disks? I do. I remember the black screen with the green characters (yes, you only got two colors, black and green) and DOS? I loved DOS. You could tell the computer exactly what you wanted it to do and it would do it! I remember “Oregon Trail” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” being the only two games available. The graphics were incredibly crude compared to what we have now, but at that time, they were amazing!!! Computers were heavy, large, beasts – both the monitors and the towers – with wired everything. The mouse came along and was a revolution! Prior to that, we used keyboard shortcuts, which I still prefer. Then the “hard” floppy disk in a 3.5″ size came along. That’s the symbol that is still modernly used to denote “Save” on computers, which I find funny because we don’t even use them anymore! Ask a kid what that symbol is and they don’t know!!! They just know that it means “Save”. More colors and color monitors were introduced, and better graphics began to be developed. Pretty soon, the laptop arrived. Oh, the world was coming to an end for some and the light shone above for others!!! What?! A computer that had the keyboard, mouse, monitor, memory, and hard drive all in one foldable unit that could weigh less than 40 lbs??? How could this be?! Now we have a range of sizes, colors, brands, and the preferred method of computing is laptops, tablets, and other things smaller than what is now referred to as a “desktop”.
Tablets. This is its own category of tech because I’m not sure whether they’re more smartphone or more computer, but they’re instead a combination of both and the tablet can now often be used to replace one or both, at least temporarily. That was a shocking concept in itself! “Touchscreen” was all the rave and being able to draw on one with a stylus like you would on paper to create artwork?! No way. Yes, way!!! Wow, what alien race delivered the plans for that?!
Television and media have had their growth spurts, too! Black and white tube TV’s with rabbit ears (tin foil on the ends, of course) and manual turn-knobs for switching channels before 2200 hrs when everything went off the air for the night was common. Then came color televisions! Oh, the heavens had smiled upon us!!! We had a Curtis Mathis color tube television with the record player built in and an 8-track player on the other side! I wore an 8-track of Liberace out listening to it, and pirate movies were a lot more fun to watch on the color TV, as were my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons, Snorks, and Smurfs! TV’s weighed a ton, just like computers did, but often were more of a furniture/entertainment item, too. As I said, the turntable for the records was on one side of the Curtis Mathis we had. Records were the thing!!! I still have a great collection of my grandparents’ 33″ records with Scott Joplin and ragtime and blues on them! Movies were colorized so that they were more up-to-date with the times. Then came something called a “flat screen”. What?! Where’s the rest of the TV I paid so much for??? Plasma was in first, then we went to HD, then to UHD, and now to 4K, and 3-D was in there somewhere. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t know much beyond that except we were always striving for better resolution and richer, more vibrant color. The turntables went away, and we thought VCR’s and cassette players would be around forever, but then they went to DVD’s, Blu-Ray, and CD’s. The signals are all digital now, so the rabbit ears are collecting dust in the garage. Analog is no more… Music is played on iPods and similar devices that have the songs digitally stored or streamed to them from an internet connection.
The internet. Here’s the big deal in the world of access and knowledge, both true and false. The internet largely replaced books, which is what I grew up with. It largely replaced typewriters and traditional mail service, because now we have online word processors and e-mail. It made faxes a less desirable alternative because now we can easily scan and e-mail a copy of a document with our high-tech printers, which no longer use the green-and-white striped paper with the holes long the sides. Digital signals can connect images of people across the world in real time using Skype and FaceTime. We can share photographic images with total strangers worldwide at the tap of the mousepad on our laptops or a click of the “Return” button. Don’t have access to something? That’s easy, we can take a credit card payment over a digital connection – money in a world of numbers that doesn’t really exist, but that you could lose your house or your car over. Want to know what the current population of Earth is? Just ask Google. Yeah, that’s right. Just talk to your computer or tablet or smartphone and ask it to find the answer to your every question and curiosity for you…
I’ve spent an hour writing this post on a word processor from a laptop, and I’m going to post it by clicking anywhere on my advanced mousepad which will send a digital, wireless signal so that you can read it wherever you are in the world. That’s a great thing! I also could’ve been climbing for an hour. I’ve fixed that problem by blogging before the climbing gym opens and before the sun comes up so that I don’t have to feel guilty about it. The world revolves so much around technology that we forget (or possibly long for) that opportunity to get away from it all and be “off the grid”. Funny how we’re so entangled in this web of tech. When I shut my phone off for just an hour so I can talk to my doctor, I always have people calling me and voice messages asking me why I’m not answering my phone. One hour. So you can imagine my absolute glee at getting to shut my phone off for an entire day while I climb!!! I think we need to turn off the tech once in a while and breathe. Just listen to the sound of your own breath. Go climbing and forget texting for a few hours! You won’t die. I promise. Get out and climb!!! Get connected with nature again!!! YOUR nature!!!