Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Technology is my frenemy

Last week, on Remi's birthday, no less, I went into total panic.  I thought I had lost my new iPad mini.

My mom and sister generously gave me this during their trip here.  They wanted me to have it for taking high quality videos and some of the great educational apps Juliette could use.  And here, only a week after receiving it, I was tearing my apartment up looking for it.  Not in the living room or my car, not in my work bag.  Wait a minute, had I accidentally put it in my work bag with a file?  And hadn't I left my windows cracked in the car when I picked up Juliette because it was so very muggy?  And what if someone had rifled through my bag while I was inside getting her?

That's when the panic started.  Like a freefalling elevator ride in my stomach.  Was some stranger currently using my iPad and hacking into my account?  The thought of having lost this gift so soon was agonizing.  I called my sister's cell and she called me back.  Had I activated the "find my iPad" feature which would allow me to remotely make my iPad "ping" to help me locate it?  I couldn't remember.  Had I set a passcode?  No, and that would only prevent a thief from using it, not help me find it.

I called the US Apple helpline and a very sympathetic Latino voice said "I'm very sorry for you ma'am" (and she truly did sound sorry) but we can't help you locate it.  You can contact local police to file a report...".  Online I read about the "find my iPad" system.  The web page said a recent survey showed some people would rather be in a car accident than lose their iPad.  At that moment I could kind of understand.  The thought of someone else looking at my photos and videos and using my device made me rather queasy.

I went to bed and slept very poorly, having two "iPad- reunited and it feels so good" dreams.  There were dark circles under my eyes when I woke up.  Remi woke Juliette (he had helped me look for the darn thing the night before and even had to bear my accusation- albeit a valid suspicion- that he was playing a trick on me and hiding it) and asked her if she'd taken it.  I went to hug her and asked her the same but less gruffly.

-"Did you take mommy's iPad?"
-Sheepish smile from sleepy Juliette.
-"Where did you put it?"
-"Where did you put it?" more insistently.
-"In the bed where MameeLin and Jessy slept."

And in between the folded up cot mattress, there it was.  The green and white cover I thought I might never lay eyes on again.

The first thing I did was email my mom and Jess to tell them the iPad was NOT stolen or lost.  Then I forced myself to not use the thing much that morning.

You may find this story appalling or silly or both.  I can only tell you my fear was real.  My symptoms of anxiety were strong.  Of course, I was worried I'd lost a gift I'd just gotten, but in the short time I'd had it, I'd already grown attached to all I could do with it.  The coziness of having it on my lap to write an email or check out a website quickly.  The crystal clear videos and photos (btw, this is not an Apple-sponsored post!).

This was not my first brush with technology in its most addictive forms.  Even before I got a smartphone back in Decemember I had an iPod for music and email.  And even before that I was still one to do a ridiculous number of email checks and somehow feel my self-worth was tied up into how many emails or blog comments or Facebook likes or comments, I got.  I can't see things have changed that much.  Maybe now they're even worse.

It's hard for me to go a lunch alone at home without checking FB on my smart phone.  Why?  I don't know anymore.  This restless energy that pushes me to do something.  Whereas before I might watch the news of read a book or stare into space.

Today alone I started my day by checking my email on the iPad.  And texting my friend who was picking me up from work. And once at work using the desktop to check email and find videos for my students to watch.  And now at home to write a blog post.  Sometimes I feel my day is just made up of pings and pixels that amount to nothing.  Nothing concrete, at least.

What will they say of someone in our generation when we pass on to that other "virtual" world where, it would seem, there is no wifi or bluetooth?  Will they say, here she lies, a regular poster on Facebook and followed by 47 on her blog.  Not to mention a few videos on Youtube.  Is it a legacy if it's all on a computer screen? 

Sometimes I go out and do something and can't resist the urge to post about it after.  As if it's not legitimate if it's not mentioned in some online venue.  Then my experience is "tainted" because I realize at the time how I'm going to post it later.

I took the bus home today from my friend's house (just to save gas) and at one point forbade myself from using my smartphone for entertainment.  (And for a little enlightenment on how depriving yourself of your smartphone and experiencing boredom is good for you, I highly recommend this post.)  I forced myself to look at the scenery and describe it in story form.  And it felt good.  And real.  But if I blog and express myself, isn't that real, too?  When it's meaningful, it's real.  Be it on paper or on a screen. 

So maybe it's time to enforce a bit more distance between me and technology.  None after nine p.m.?  None between 9 and 12 a.m.?  Or just less is more?  Less posting on FB, more reading real books instead of status updates?  It's a strange and exciting world we live in.  


Crystal said...

So happy you found it! I could tell how stressed you must have been just from you telling the story in your post!

And I feel like I could have written this post myself -- I've become so addicted to my smartphone and tablet (not an ipad mini, but still!) that I wonder how I managed before! I must say that all this new technology DOES make teaching that much easier ;)

Michelle Couny said...

I know exactly where you're coming from and I think many many other people do too. How and why did we become so dependent on all this technology. I think it's more worrying for us as we remember life before FB and ipads. Our kids won't worry about it as it's all they will know. That's scarier! On holiday earlier this year, I did not take my laptop, or use my phone for facebook. Only once for an emergency internet search for a garage! It was a great weeks break from all technology, we played board games and read books and I felt so relaxed it was really worth it! I so desperately crave an ipad a kindle or some form of tablet, but I do worry what it will do to me!

Lindle said...

I think we just have to set limits. I think we now have to have intentional, non-technology breaks, like Michelle said, to just receive our natural surroundings with our senses, and to avoid self-narration as we wander forest paths or watch people in a restaurant.
On our return from France, I watched people in the airport, and I was shocked at home many people were plugged up to their phones and tablets. Sure, it fills long hours of layover, but heads are down--not up.
The reality is that our society now works so hugely with technology in almost every way: online banking,tax filing, instant contacts with friends and family, Drop Boxes, Google Maps, recipe searches, and Skype sessions with little sneaky French granddaughters, that it is the highway we travel now. The danger is in looking down and missing something that is up.
The challenge is to get off that highway regularly---go off road again---and find that horizon.
But I'm awfully glad you found your iPad mini, and I hope you have the lost/found function activated now. They just showed a guy on TV who had stolen someone's iPad from the airport TSA security hold, and they were able to ping it and go straight to the house where it was being used! Amazing!