For the Technology Obsessed, Less is More

Although my slight addiction to technology might suggest otherwise, there were only ever two gadgets I really wanted in my life: my own typewriter and unlimited access to a card catalog. Not too much to ask for, right?

Why can’t I have my own?!

Pre-computers, I always envied my brother and his typewriter. He didn’t have to use the family typewriter for any of his typing needs (and boy do seven-year olds have a lot of typing needs) and could type in the comfort of his own room. I, on the other hand, had to go into the downstairs closet in my parents’ office, lug out the giant typewriter, and manage to carry it to a part of the house where I could type to my heart’s content without annoying the entire family, which was inevitable when typing on a typewriter.

I secretly wish libraries still used these.

Post-computers, I never thought I’d be able to raise the millions of dollars I believed it cost to acquire my own personal computer. When it became clear the Internet was here to stay, it also became clear that I could, in effect, have unlimited access to the card catalogs because libraries were putting all their systems online. Even better. Then, the advent of Google and Wikipedia made endless information available immediately if not sooner. Life goals achieved.

Ahead of its time. Moo.

However, I often ask myself, as I incessantly check Facebook, if technology really has made my life better. I might have a slight addiction to checking Facebook, similar to my

Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to win this game.

past obsession with playing Minesweeper on my Gateway computer instead of doing my homework. I don’t even know why I’m do it, I just feel like clicking on things. Instead of accomplishing anything of worth, I just become irritated by all of the mines I’ve accidentally clicked on.

Of course technology has made life easier in many ways, but I’d argue it’s cheapened the quality of life in countless other ways. Nothing beats writing with a pen and paper and meeting someone face-to-face instead of texting with them.

What’s a ’90s playlist without some early Smashing Pumpkins?

I’ve always been infatuated with how the way things were (even as I write this I’m listening to a ‘90s playlist) so of course I’m a bit biased. I love being nostalgic and often take trips down memory lane. During my most recent trip down memory lane (today), I stumbled across a couple of old habits I had that made me think I should take a tip or two from my past self.

I challenge you to find me a diary without an inspirational quote.
I challenge you to find me a diary without an inspirational quote.

While paging through my old diaries to see what I was doing on this day in history (a pastime of mine), I stumbled upon an entry from October 17th, 2000. I had just achieved a lifetime best time in the 100-yard butterfly at a swim meet and wrote, “It’s such a great feeling to touch the wall and see a best time. It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment. I get to cross it off my goal sheet. Reaching a goal is one of the best feelings.”

I kept a goal sheet? And I actually crossed off goals when they were attained? I wrote about it like it was no big deal, but apparently it was because I certainly don’t keep a goal sheet anymore. I should probably start that up again.

Hand held notebooks are useful for scribbling down directions to parties.
Hand held notebooks are useful for scribbling down directions to parties.

The second thing I came across was a hand held notebook I kept in my early 20s when I lived in Boston. In this notebook, I’d write down random information like job postings, directions to parties, daily noticings, and series of questions based on observations I’d made. For example, while riding the T, and seeing a man sitting next to a pizza, I scrawled, “Who delivers a pizza via the T? Why does a pizza get a whole seat? Seriously?” The questions I often posed to my notebook were always very specific and based on whatever was happening in front of me at the time.

I'm not texting, I'm taking notes!
I’m not texting, I’m taking notes!

I still keep regular notes on my iPhone, but it’s not the same as my hand held notebook. For one, I can’t get down as much information when I write with my thumbs. Secondly, I hate how it looks like I’m always texting/being rude while someone is talking when really I’m capturing nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. The thought of looking rude hinders me from writing down my thoughts and I really hate to interrupt my creative flow especially when it involves pizza.

When it comes to technology, it’s all about finding the balance. I’ll always remain infatuated with my favorite technological oldies but goodies, but I’ll still keep updating my iPhone. I’m not going to quit the Internet cold turkey, but perhaps it’s time to return to some of my pre-technologically obsessed habits such as taking pen and paper notes and keeping a goal sheet.

If It Ain’t Broke…

With the advent of Google Buzz, I’m starting to get tired of all the rapid changes in technology and social media.  If technology is going to progress so quickly, I’d like to be able to choose whether or not I can opt in or opt out of these changes.  For instance, Google Buzz simply swooped in and gave its Gmail users Twitter-like abilities and public profiles without fair warning. Facebook has changed its image and added more features so many times that it’s becoming frustrating.  What was wrong with the first 500 versions of the website? 

Today’s phones don’t just take calls, but also videos, photos, hold music, store important documents, act as a GPS, balance your check book, and count your calories.  Anything you’d want to do in your daily life, now there is a phone app for that.  Remember when text messaging was a novel concept?!

It’s hard to keep up with all these changes, especially when I preferred some of the older models better than their newer counterpoints.  I’m still adjusting to the fact that VHS tapes are out along with video rental stores like Blockbuster.

In honor of my favorite “oldies, but goodies,” here are 5 technologies that are fine just the way they are:

 1) The boom box.  Do you really need to bring your personal computer around with you to provide music at parties? The boom box did just fine.  Plus it still plays your old mix tapes.

 2) The overhead projector.  Invented during the 1940s, this is hands down the best way to display information on a wall in front of large groups of people.  No need to worry about memory stick problems or losing your connection to the internet during a presentation.

 3) A physical book.  No digital reader can ever replace the feeling of holding a book in your hands and feeling the pages between your fingers (and of course the new book smell).

 4) The Nokia cell phone.  I agree, we all need cell phones, but you can’t even use a touch screen with your winter gloves! Flip phones tend to snap in half eventually, but the Nokia can fly down a flight of stairs (and even survive a drop in the toilet) and still accept your calls and text messages.

 5) The single air conditioner unit. Forget central air.  I just want my bedroom to be cold. The noise these things make is soothing, especially if white noise helps you sleep. I don’t need my whole house to be cold all the time and I like how easy you can control the temperature on these things.

What are some of your favorite technological “oldies but goodies”?