It crashed. It simply crashed and, for a few panic-stricken moments, I didn’t know what to do. The internet went down at work yesterday afternoon and I felt like a Roombot slowly spinning in circles, bouncing off of walls and random pieces of furniture, lost in a world that was absent of instant communication.
I was moderately frightened for myself when I realized how much I have come to rely on technology. The increasing ease and speed at which we can sail through mundane tasks makes me forget my humble beginnings of pen-pals and library sessions with encyclopedias and the Dewey decimal system. I have become a member of a mutated generation that is driven by immediate knowledge and gratification.
I feel somewhat sad that my nephews, who are currently 17 and 14, and like-generations, will never understand what we had to endure to communicate with our friends. Gone are the days of writing letters in long hand (do kids today even know what that is??), putting those letters in envelopes, dropping them into a giant mail box and waiting weeks, maybe months, for a response. Making long distance phone calls to a town 15 minutes away is a thing of the past. And don’t even get me started on the friends who didn’t have answering machines. I’m sure I still have phone numbers burned into my finger tips from dialing them incessantly on our rotary phone until somebody finally answered.
Our society has gracefully surpassed hand written letters, DOS programming and the annoying pings and beeps of the dial-up connection but throughout that process we seem to have lost a bit of our patience. If a text message is not responded to immediately, we think we are being ignored. If an email goes without a response for 24 hours, we question if we have offended the recipient in some way. And (God forbid) if the internet crashes, our world seems to crumble right alongside of it.
I am certainly not saying that technology and all of its advancements are not wonderful things. If that were the case, I would not be pontificating my polysyllabic profundities through this medium. I am simply stating that we are so anxious to feel instantaneously connected to everything and everyone that we forget how to merely connect to ourselves and slow down the pace of our lives, if only for a moment.
As ironic as it is that I am writing this post on my laptop, I feel the need to purposely unplug for at least a few hours. No Kindle, no texting, no television, no surfing the web. I want to put a touch of history into how I spend the hours of my evening. I want to write a letter, a real hand-written letter, to a friend I know who will only send letters this way. I want to hold a paperback novel in my hands and I want to be able to have my brain work the way it was trained to work and not just be distracted by the millions of images on the internet.
The internet may have changed how we communicate, how we learn and how we conduct business, but it should never have the power to change us or the things that make us infinitely human. Technology is just a tool. And although it can teach us many things, patience and a capacity for perseverance are not contained in its syllabus.