The Apple IIe that I opened one Christmas morning was a beige behemoth — not pretty to look at — but amazing to a teenager who had begged her parents to buy our first home computer in the 1980s.
It had a floppy disk drive and a dot-matrix printer, and I spent hours sitting at the desk in our dining room running simple programs, word processing and printing colorful banners. I even carted it off to college, where it served me well for several years before I traded it in for a shiny black laptop.
I used to be fascinated with technology, keeping up, at least on a superficial basis, with the latest gadgets and gizmos. Not anymore.
I’m not sure when it happened, but over time, I lost interest, even in the midst of some truly revolutionary innovations.
Sure, I still have a laptop and a cell phone. And as someone in a field that depends on the adoption of the latest technology to keep up in this fast-paced news environment, I understand the need to be technologically savvy.
There is no denying the power of the Internet and its ability to bring us together in this global society and to provide an outlet for those who otherwise would be shut out in their own communities. We only have to look at the role Twitter played last year in spreading the word about Iranian protests after the government there tried to block media access.
But in my personal life, technology is merely a tool to get work done, find information when I need it or share an occasional photo or e-mail, not a means to network socially or even surf the Web for fun.
I don’t want to stay connected 24-7. I find it refreshing to disconnect every once in a while to spend quality, guilt-free time with the people I love without my computer on or cell phone ringing. I refuse to open a MySpace or Facebook account, where people “friend” each other and post updates, often on the intimate details of their lives. I have no desire to reconnect with my past or open the door into my private life.
I would much rather speak to those in my inner circle in person or by phone (on my old-fashioned home phone). When I talk to parents, siblings or friends, I want to hear their voices on the other line; to understand the emotions behind the words. It’s tough to do that when you’re communicating via text message or e-mail.
I cringe when I see people in the check-out line at the grocery store, in the car or on vacation checking their Blackberry every minute. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that today’s teens are the worst offenders, preferring texting more than any other method of communication. One in three teens sends more than 100 texts a day, the survey said.
My attitude about technology is no doubt a source of frustration to friends and family. I can go for several days without responding to personal e-mail messages. In the past two years, I have sent less than a dozen text messages.
One of my older sisters has been urging me for about a year to sign up for Skype, which allows people to make calls over the Internet complete with video. (OK, I may succumb for the sake of my loved ones, who live so far away.)
My technophile husband recently took me on a trip to the Apple store to check out the iPad. I get the cool factor, but I was far from awe-struck by it. He’s now persuading me to give an e-Reader a try, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to part with printed materials — not yet anyway. I like holding books and newspapers in my hands, flipping the pages as I go along.
Of course, this is not to say that I don’t worry about being left behind. Technology will move onward and upward, whether I embrace it or not.
And to think, I used to roll my eyes when my parents asked me how to turn on the VCR or print out a document on my beloved Apple IIe.