When I was in seventh grade, my parents gave me a clock for my birthday. A clock radio for my room, perfect for playing KFRC (back when it was a contemporary pop/rock kind of station). It was very mod, white with smooth white buttons, sort of a 2001: A Space Odyssey kind of look to it. More importantly, it wasn't an analog clock, but instead, the numbers flipped through the day, changing as the minutes rolled by. Flip, flip, flip. I could hear the flip if I held my ear to it. Flip, another minute. All night long. Flip.
Some time before that--probably when I was still in grammar school--my father bought a calculator. I think it cost 200 dollars (back in the early 70's, that was a big deal). That calculator was probably as good as the $9.99 one I have right in front of me now--yellow and solar powered (made in China, too, so I have to wonder about the yellow plastic!). He also bought us a Pong game around the same time, and we hooked it up to the back of our television, amazed that we had a game attached to our TV. It was amazing! My sisters and I played it for hours.
I am starting to sound like the grandparent I will be some day: "Back in my day, Sonny, we only had Pong! Are you listening? We were lucky to get a calculator. My father used a slide rule, for god's sake."
But what got me started on this train of thought were all the blinking lights around me as I write. My Blackberry's LED is flashing green. To my left, my modem is blinking, showing that the wireless is humming along just fine. Underneath my desk is the power strip, the light constant. My new Roomba is all charged up (wait, I better go let it loose in the living room--there, all better). The Direct TV box's blue button is on. There are scanners and printers, sub woofers, speakers.
And that's just my office. We have HD TV's and DVRs and DVD players. A speaker system that makes me feel like I am in the movie we are watching. Phones. Digital clocks.
It's like the future but it's now!
My students have all this technology. They carry their phones with them, texting even during class. I know what it looks like, students with both hands in their laps even as they watch me. I can tell their thumbs are in motion. They have their headphones on, their MP3's a buzz. At home, they get lost in the vortex of computer games that are so enthralling, some of them don't sleep at night. We are wired up, ready for launch. What's next?
So what will my children say when they are grandparents? "Back in our day, we didn't have chips implanted in our heads. We had to actually carry our phones with us, Sonny. There wasn't any texting by thinking."
Technology has made the life I lead now possible. I am able to stay at home three days a week and teach. I only show up in human form two days a week on campus. I can work with my agent and editor from anywhere via my Blackberry or wireless computer. I can write on my computer just about anywhere. I do love it.
But what is next? What other changes will I see? I want to know. I've gone from dial phones with long curly wires to phones I can use in the middle of nowhere. I've gone from a manual typewriter to this tiny laptop. I've gone from a windup alarm clock with a bell on top to an alarm on my phone. I've gone from writing letters to writing email.
What have I lost along with all I've gained?
"What do you say, Sonny?"
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org