Home > Technology > Convenience vs. Independence: 3…2…1 FIGHT!

Convenience vs. Independence: 3…2…1 FIGHT!

Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners Inc., recently posted in his blog about the iPad, and it’s greatness (read it here: http://tinyurl.com/26yf9lu). A quick excerpt from the post reads:

The iPad *Yaawn*

“[The iPad]’s too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. Certainly there are some kinks, but nothing monumental. For the most part, it does everything I could want. Which, as it turns out, is a problem.”

You might be saying to yourself…nothing he says can possible be a problem. Well first, read the damn blog, and second, realize that he is completely right. The iPad is one of the most recent, but just one of thousands, of new technological developments designed to have as many people looking at screens as possible (kidding…obviously it’s intent is to have everything you’d every want at your fingertips).

[A ready-made topic for a future post: Adults need to realize it’s not just their kids having too much screen time.]

The question is: Does having technology like the iPad, or smartphones, or any technology making things easier really help us out in the long run? This is debated below. Let’s meet our fights: INNNNNN the red corner, we have Convenience!!! and in the Blue Corner, Independence!!!! Let’s see what each side has in store for us tonight.

Convenience: What would the world today do without technology? It is possible to be sitting in your house at 7pm, bored with nothing to do, and be out of the house fifteen minutes later knowing where the party is at, the first and last names of every attendee (as well as the maybes), what to wear/what the theme is, and who to pick up on the way. While heading there you can find out exact directions where to go, how long it will take, any traffic you might encounter, and the best detours around said traffic. Need to stop and get some booze? You can find the nearest liquor/beer store and what brands they sell. Oh yeah…this is all done on your phone. How can life be any easier? Technology makes the world easier, more efficient, more streamlined, and just plain faster. The convenience technology provides is incredible and can make life so stress free and easy to manuever through. In something that is able to fit in your pocket you have access to all of the information in every library in the world, every restaurant in your city (as well as their menus, contact info, pricing, and if they have valet parking or not), and every book you could ever read that isn’t in any library. Oh yeah, and you can…ya know, call people sometimes too.

Moving away from portable electronics, imagine the technology that can hold trillions of byte of data on a single compact disc, or a card or chip that holds all of your medical records in one convenient place. Technology is sweet isn’t it? Anything you have ever wanted is within reach, or a click away. How convenient is that?

Well let’s just see…

Independence: I recently had a conversation with a friend about our phones, and the fact that the iPhone is also your iPod came up. He thinks that’s terribly convenient and I think….hell, if  I lost or broke my phone, I would also lose all of my music. Yes, it’s backed up on a computer but the device I use to listen to it is now broken. The phrase “2 birds with 1 stone” comes to mind. In today’s world…there’s no longer just two birds; break your iPad or smartphone and you potentially just kicked an entire damn flock. Imagine in one fateful and heart-wrenching snap you lose your media player, computer, phone, camera, and alarm clock. Now you’re going to be late for work, can’t be contacted or call anyone for help, you’ve got nothing to document your helplessness with, and you can’t put said documentation up on Youtube because your internet access is gone too.

Where’s the fun in that? Yes, I get the pros of convenience and all-in-one products…but there is so much risk involved. I stand by what I say when I claim that I will never combine my media player and phone into one. If I got an iPhone, I would still have another iPod. The convenient nature of combining all forms of connectivity into one device is appealing but the risk is staggering. Imagine the businessman who loses his Blackberry and suddenly misses out on all of his emails about important deals and loses a ton of money because he has no other form of email access except for at the office?

As a race, human beings have become to dependent on technology and the convenience it brings. Read any article about a major power outage (here’s a good one about the huge regional blackout in 2003: http://tinyurl.com/2cpums). Read the excerpt below and fully understand our dependence on technology:

“The outage stopped trains, elevators and the normal flow of traffic and life. In Michigan, water supplies were affected because water is distributed through electric pumps, a governor’s spokeswoman said.”

Read that again…focus on these words “The outage stopped…life.” This is strategically singled out for the most dramatic effect but understand the words will still printed and the message is still there. When we lose electricity, life stops; the message is clear. Am I suggesting a Fight Club scenario not just focused on Credit Card companies and banks? Of course not, but it does make one think twice about becoming so dependent on things out of most of our control.

I will admit, I have a smartphone that I use for internet, a camera, contact book, alarm clock, etc…and I am typing this now on a computer that keeps me connected to everything and everyone. But I also have the highest insurance available to make sure I don’t lose what I have invested in because I realize that if I lose one of them, I could lose a lot more than just the hardware.

One last thing. I do realize this is a very extreme view of both the convenience and lack of independence that comes with advances in technology. Society evolves, and we all need to accept the evolution instead of fight it because it can lead to great things. But it also worries me that people rely more on machines and surgeries to be healthy than just playing outside, going for a jog or swim (while listening to his or her iPod/iPhone of course), and eating right. Every time I see someone get red in the face and screen at their computer or phone because they just got disconnected…it makes me wonder, why get mad? There’s risks involved with these conveniences, and you must know that before involving yourself with them.

Whoo! That’s a doosie and my hands are tired from typing…so this is an abrupt end, but I promise more lighthearted and hopefully hilarious topics in the future. Goodnight!

Categories: Technology
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