I was watching a clip on YouTube earlier and thought to myself “Jesus, look at this horrible video quality. These definitions are the opposite of high. The amount of p’s in this resolution is unacceptable. When was this recorded, the Stone Age?”
It was from 2001.
Everything was chunkier back then. Even CEOs.
This struck me as surreal, because I distinctly remember 2001. We’re not talking about some time before I was born or when I was too young to remember clearly; I was 14 years old. I thought technology was pretty good back then. I was quite happy with it, in fact. You probably were too. I remember online videos being a marvel of modern science, not a choppy, pixilated mess. That was the standard. We didn’t know any better and we got on pretty well.
But compared to what we have now, it was in fact a choppy, pixelated mess. Of course, we didn’t know that at the time. Or even if we did, it’s not like we could ask for anything better. That was already the bleeding edge. We were blissfully unaware of how crummy we actually had it.
If you had a time machine and dropped me back to the turn of the century, I would probably go insane. Even though I was perfectly fine with the state of technology at the time, I wouldn’t want to relive it. Sure, we had the Internet back then. Cell phones too. Heck, even Playstation 2. It doesn’t seem that bad on paper. Most of the modern conveniences we have now were already there.
But it is that bad. We might have had those things, but they don’t even begin to compare to what I’m used to now. My iPhone is exponentially more powerful than the computer I had then, and I keep it in my pocket.
I’ve seen the gates of Mount Olympus. I’ve tasted the divine ambrosia. I’ve cavorted with gods and lived like a king. I can’t go back. Not ever. I would sooner die.
Okay, not really. But you get what I’m driving at.
I’ve recently come to realize how hopelessly addicted to technology I am. I’m not sure if it’s a strictly negative quality (it probably is), but it is undoubtedly true. It is extremely rare for me to go very long without using it. If I’m not at my computer, I’m using my phone. If I’m not using my phone, I’m probably playing video games. If I’m not doing that, I’m thinking about one (or all) of the above. I can hardly go to the bathroom anymore if I don’t have my phone, DS, or laptop with me. God forbid I don’t have something to occupy myself with for 2 whole minutes. I simply don’t know how to be bored any more. can’t even imagine what I would do if I had to take a road trip now like I did when I was a kid. How did I possibly entertain myself? Counting trees?
My biggest vice, as I’ve alluded to a few times already, is my phone. I can’t be without it. I get visibly anxious if I don’t have it. Even if I’m not actively using it, it has to be around or else I don’t feel right. What if I get a call (or more realistically, a text message)? What if someone emails me? What if something cool happens and I want to take a picture? What if I suddenly become curious about something and want to look it up on Wikipedia? It doesn’t matter if I’m just in the kitchen and my phone is on my desk, I have to go get it. It’s a sickness.
I wasn’t always this way, though. I didn’t even have a cell phone until the very end of 2004. And that was just a crappy little Ericsson that came free with my plan. It didn’t even have a camera. I didn’t get one of those until 2006 when I bought a used phone from my roommate. But in February 2008, everything changed. I got my first iPhone and it was all down hill from there.
But honestly, it’s not really the phone’s fault. I was always pretty addicted to technology. Some of my earliest memories from when I was a toddler are of playing Nintendo. I would spend hours playing video games growing up. Then we got a computer and those hours got longer. Along came the internet and I tacked on even more hours. At least though, I could always pry myself away eventually. After all, I couldn’t take the computer with me. If I wanted to do something else I’d have to leave the internet alone for a while.
That isn’t the case anymore.
The iPhone was but the weapon with which the crime was committed. The real culprit was mobility. I didn’t need to pull myself away because now I could just pick up and go. It made things both better and worse at the same time. It was liberating while also enslaving.
Over time though, even that wasn’t enough. Like any junkie, I got accustomed to what I had and I needed a stronger fix. I lusted after the newest and best. Unfortunately for me, my electronic heroin does not come cheap. But budget be damned, I was fiending. I finally upgraded to the iPhone 4 and started on an all-new high.
Every time something new comes along, the old stuff looks like crap. With every advancement I become exceedingly more cynical. That NES I cut my teeth on? Obsolete. My old computers? Garbage. I can’t help but look at my original iPhone with derision. I know eventually even my iPhone 4, the current gadget love of my life, will be replaced with something newer and fancier. It’s a vicious cycle that I will continually repeat. Out with the old, in with the new. That is, until the new becomes old then out with that too.
With all of this being said, do I regret being a slave to technology? No, not particularly. Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome and I’ve begun to identify with my captors. Maybe I’m just a mindless idiot. Whatever, I don’t really care. I have always loved tech and always will. When the robot uprising happens I’ll probably take their side. Of course, they’re just going to kill me anyway, but at least I’ll die happy knowing that I could have checked the weather absolutely any time I wanted.
Adults would always tell me I would rot my brain if I spent too much time on the computer. I always thought that was nonsense. If anything, my mind is more active than ever. Maybe that is the real problem.
Technology may have ruined me, but I’m okay with that.