Technology has always fascinated me. It is somewhat like fashion – you have to be right on your toes fast enough to keep up with it, otherwise you will not look cool if you are left behind. For example, when we look at simple objects around our house – like our telephone, fridge, television, and radio – and we remember how they actually looked years ago, we cannot help but admit that they were nostalgically funny-looking to us, like looking at our old photos, where we’re adorned in big shoulder pads and big hair. No matter what, one thing we can bet on is that fashion and technology will both change and would not be what they are at this time next year. We cannot deny that in the last fifteen years, everything through technology has changed so fast. Centuries ago, the process of any inventions were so very slow because there was not an easy way of communicating between cultures and countries. Now, however, the whole world has become one and we all are able to participate in different degrees in all things that are new and happening. The technology of the internet has given each one of us the ability to have a platform and a voice.
Let’s take the art world as an example. Like so many of you, I do not like change. I feel somber to see galleries go and disappear, especially the ones which have been a leading source of art and culture for us all. We can blame it again all on a mighty monster called technology, swallowing the old continuously and spitting out the new ever-so-repeatedly, making us out of breath to keep up with all the changes it brings to us. The internet has changed it all for the art galleries, allowing artists to be able to reach the public and clients directly and through the online art websites and social media. Nowadays, it seems like the art world, as well as the music world and the publishing world, are all mourning the slow death of their businesses that once were alive and well but are now changing, and no one knows exactly which direction they’re headed. Even though I read everything online, at times, I still like to hold my New York Times Sunday edition in my hands. I quite enjoy flipping through its pages while I am on my stationary bike, and I still enjoy the human contact and interaction of going to art gallery openings and book stores, picking up the books and looking through their pages. The fact is that the internet and social media have made it very convenient for us all to be artists, film makers, photographers, and published authors. Could it be possible that one day soon, art galleries would be just a fraction of our past memories and the way it used to be? Perhaps thinking back on them would feel the same as looking at our flappy disks nowadays, and always with a smile!
But still how amazing is our intense love affair with everything digital? We are taking off ever so fast on the path of technology. Take me for example. I have a very deep, meaningful relationship with my Apple computer; you could even call it a love affair. I miss my computer when I am away from it. Actually, I think I am kind of addicted to all my “i’s,” like my iPhone, iPad, iPod. If one thing goes wrong with one of them, I get in a bad mood and can’t wait to get it fixed. God forbid, when something happens to my desktop computer, I wrap it up and take it to the Apple store so it could be worked on immediately. The empty spot that was once occupied by it looks terribly bare and naked. It makes me sad to even look at the vacancy that my computer’s absence has created on my desk. I can almost even hear a melody from the background coming through, like someone you have loved has left you and your life cannot be the same until his return. Yes, it is true to say that to me, my computer sitting on my desk has a personality and a soul.
Long ago, I was reading an old book by Bill Gates. The book must have been written way back, a long time ago, when he was still just working on introducing to us his very first computers that he was building. In this book, he mentions that one day, there is going to be a way that we will not use letters, stamps and mail so much as a means of our communication anymore, but some day there is going to be a way that we will receive our mail by just sitting in front of our computers and communicating with each other from all across the globe through our computers. Wow. How true his claim has been, and how strange and unlikely these predictions must have sounded to his readers back then.
Once, I was talking to this old lady, asking her about how she keeps in touch with her grown children, who are all spread out in different parts of the states. I asked her if she emails or Skypes them. She had no idea what these terms meant, and once I had explained to her what they are and what they mean, she was amazed and wanted to know how much it would cost her for each email she would send out. “How refreshing,” I thought to myself. “Weren’t we more free and less stressed out before this advanced technology that we are experiencing now?” Are we too far gone and can’t go back to whom we were before anymore? I am sure we can’t, for we have expanded by the experience of the technology and cannot fit back into the smaller space that we once occupied mentally. If someone were to ask us, “Who were you? What did you do? What did you look like? How did you feel before these advanced digital discoveries and inventions?” we would admit that the image of us in those days is ridiculously dated and uncool. In older movies, when I see that the cell phones used were once so large, it makes me smile.
Can we ever live without Facebooking, Tweeting? Can we ever live without our cell phones, iPads, iPods, or our computers and other devices? Can businesses, hospitals, airports, and any other establishments or households – can the whole world – ever survive without computers? We are constantly stimulated by the waves of technology. Maybe there would be a day that even nature can be computerized. Maybe there would come a day that a tree can converse with us and the ocean can have intelligence.
I am thinking to myself, “What would Jane Austen do if she were living in our era?” Then i think, “Yes, she would own a desktop computer, a laptop, an iPad, an iPhone, and an iPod.” We are chasing technology and also running away from it at the same time. We cannot keep up with it. We are restless and anxious. The other day, when I was taking my daily walk, I saw a bunch of construction workers sitting by the site of their construction building, having lunch. It seemed they were talking about getting sick, as I had overheard one construction worker telling another, “No, I would never get sick, unless you shove me in a room behind a computer.” Oh, the irony.