Our fancy gadgets are dismantling families, complicating our lives

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2004

How much technology is too much technology?

I remember a day not long ago when a slide projector was more than enough to ensure a successful presentation, whether it be at a conference, business meeting or for a college assignment.

Then came PowerPoint presentations promising to knock the socks of your target audience with video, sound and data images. Much to the credit of the manufacturers, it is possible to give a phenomenal presentation with this program.

However, that's if you know what you're doing, and for whatever the reason, it seems to me many people don't know what the heck they're doing.

I have never attended a conference or similar function, where at least one person didn't have something happening with PowerPoint, and they either lost or couldn't display their presentation to the group.

Many people are lured into trying new technology and sexy gadgetry by promises that it will function faster, better and more efficiently than their old devices. Of course, chief among these false claims is how simple they all say they are to use. All too often something very simple ends up being extremely complex.

At what point does something that can eventually save you time in the long run, but that requires inordinate amounts of time, attention and effort in the short run to learn how to make it work, cease to be a better system?

It's as if the more a product promises to do for me, the more of an investment it requires from me both in time learning to understand it and in money to be able to afford it, since the newest thing is typically the most expensive.

Compounding the problem is how frequently today's masterpiece of technology becomes tomorrow's antiquated equipment. Then you're back at square one again.

Humans are industrious by nature, and our technological progress is usually linked with our advancing civilization. However, uncontrolled progress is cancerous to the human condition because it negatively effects us as social organisms.

Technology has driven a stake through the heart of the American family. Gone the way of the dodo are the days when, after work and after school, families would get together to enjoy a meal, then socialize and maybe even play a board game together.

Now, thanks to modern technology, the kids are glued to their Sony Playstations video games. Mom is in another room enthralled with the Lifetime movie of the week, and dad is zealously scanning the Internet in an effort to illegally download music.

Technology has dismantled the social aspect of the family unit by making us strangers within our own homes as we live vicariously through the excessive forms of technology and media at our disposal.

I can't answer with complete certainty how much technology is too much, but I think America as a whole is getting close. I just hope it's not too late when we finally come to the realization that enough is enough.

Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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