What do “The Goldbergs,” a CD player with headphones and telephone poles have in common?
They’re all connected: 20th century style.
Oddly enough, being connected used to be construed as a bad, complicated mess. Wires would hang from everywhere…and then pop up somewhere else. Recall the triumphant house lighting scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” when Ellen has to navigate her fingers through a clutter of over-plugged outlets? This maze of confusion led innovators and inventors to draw a blueprint, but without a pencil or pen.
In a single word: wireless.
This reality was new, cleaner and more efficient. Consequently, we discovered space in our lives we never knew existed or thought was even possible. Along this evolutionary track came cell phones that increasingly functioned as handheld computers with surreal power. Included in the capability to make phone calls internationally while situated in virtually any location (as long as Sprint is not your provider) is the capacity to share random events, thoughts, pictures and videos through a myriad of social media platforms.
The range of practicality ranges from necessary to fun, as most aspects in life should. But will this ultimately be a good conversion for society? While wireless technology certainly has its benefits, there are drawbacks as well. For instance, what if a satellite is down (“Gravity”) or what if there is too much signal traffic that prevents the completion of a simple phone call or necessary internet search? What if there is an emergency, but every phone or communication device is formatted to the digital grid and the grid is temporarily malfunctioning or is broken?
Think Time Warner Cable…or Sprint. But with a wider reach and dependability.
Marco Santana of the Des Moines Register wrote an article about wireless and landline phones that was printed in USA Today on March 31st of this year. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which twice a year tracks the percentage of households that still use landlines, reported in December that 35.8% of U.S. households have gone wireless-only, a 77.2% bump over late 2008.”
Landline phones and landline technologies seem and feel ancient, uncool and not applicable to 21st century endeavors. Except that, in emergencies or situations when a person wants to actually feel connected to something, he or she would probably find assurance in holding an off-white receiver with a stretchy cord dangling around like a cosine wave.
It feels as if we are all entering the digital era of no return. However, like most things, balance is a good thing. Will the future be purely digital or will it develop into a hybrid of the past and present/future? Will analog become a legitimate backup system?
Point of consideration: Retro is considered cool for a variety of reasons and can even be viewed as a pausing mechanism to modern practices. This goes for clothes, lingo, general behavior, music, movies, toys, communication devices, etc.
It’s strange: the more connected we get by transitioning to digital technologies actually makes us less connected in the literal sense. More of our lives continues to float upwards into the ever-expansive and mysterious cloud.
What’s next? Fishing without a pole and worm?
Information is addicting. Plain and simple. Those NBC commercials titled, “The More You Know” always spark an internal curiosity in me. Watching those brief messages on the weekend from NBC personalities is like taking a swig of Knowledgeade.
I’m ready to go Mr. Lauer!
Aside from these brief, uplifting messages are a myriad of other outlets before us that present nearly unlimited opportunities for discovery and insight. The access to information on a daily basis is astonishing in the 21st century. It’s even borderline mesmerizing considering the world once existed and functioned well before a printing press was invented, let alone the pre-Internet era. Consider this: a phone is actually a computer first, with its calling capabilities down to probably third or fourth on the priority list of preferred functionality.
We all know it’s true. And if you think that’s an exaggeration, perhaps you are forgetting about the camera, your wide array of cool apps and your digital music player. Plus, don’t neglect the GPS (seriously, don’t neglect it).
Even the term “iCloud” has altered our perspective of the sky above us. No longer do we glance up into the open sky and blankly ponder the open space with imaginative daydreams. Instead, we look up and visualize data points and infinite transfers of structured and random information moving from Point A to Point B with a diagonal cut to Point S.
Is this a good evolutionary trait?
There are some nights when I look forward to relaxing and taking a break from writing papers and participating in the daily grind. Laying comfortably on a couch with a favorite show playing on the television in front of me, the urge becomes too overwhelming. I instantly (while simultaneously regretting it) open up my MacBook Pro that was closed and start searching for witty articles by a specific author or funny interview clips from a talk show.
On the one hand, it’s good that we are a people that is anxious and excited to seek and find new bits of information. Expanding our horizons should be viewed as a positive characteristic.
Still though, is it really positive that we’ve developed a never-ending quest for knowledge (traditional and non-traditional alike) that prevents us from taking necessary mental breaks?
On the knowledge front, we’ve all moved to the beach with a beautiful ocean view. Everyday, we look out into the vast blue, shimmering openness with the ambition to learn something new, knowing full well that complete knowledge is impossible. We take the dive regardless. On Wednesday, it’s waves hitting a bunch of rocks we see far to the right that stirs our inquisitiveness. On Thursday morning, we see surfers, which makes us want to learn about the history of surfing. Friday evening shows us fun being enjoyed on the boardwalk. Something clicks in our minds that we find too irresistible not to explore.
The rocks, surfers and people on a boardwalk represents something different to each of us. Regardless, these are topics we now find ourselves searching about…virtually nonstop.
While we may be exhausted, we are still seeing things we may never be able to or think to see again.
It’s a classic dilemma.
Speaking of classic…