When Is Enough, Enough?

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”….Unknown (Often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein)

Back in the mid ’90’s, as my daughter rapidly approached her teen years, I was elated to see that she was developing a voracious appetite for reading. Indeed, during those lean years, some minor sacrifices were made in order to acquire seemingly endless volumes of the YA series du jour and many hours were spent in book stores and libraries (remember those?) And I loved it. She was proving to be a chip off the old block…..a regular “Junior”. Then technology exploded. Suddenly, almost overnight, dad, bibliophile and literature major-turned cop, was imploring his offspring to concentrate on “math & science“. Amazingly, she did both. And in 2002, when she left home in order to pursue a technology related degree, and her “empty nest” parents prepared to move on to greener (and much warmer) pastures, more than a few young girls happily became recipients of boxes and boxes of Junior’s books.

Fast forward to the here and now and take a moment to think of all the incredible technological advancements we’ve had the privilege of witnessing. (Hope you weren’t expecting me to list them. My allotted storage space on this blog site is only so big.) In many regards our everyday lives have improved, and gotten worse at the same time. Admittedly, considering my career choice in this, my second life, technology plays a huge part. We now have unlimited access to, well, everything. Books, music, movies, maps, and information, some of which is best left unseen. My cable box has 1600 channels and that’s before I fire up the Roku or Apple TV. Want to know what anyone else is looking at, feeling, or liking, get the popcorn ready and click into their Facebook page. Phone calls are no longer a “voice on the other end”. Skype, Facetime and a myriad of other applications can turn our communications into Jetson-esque episodes. We can use the same device to call, text, photograph, research, surf and play….eyesight permitting, And suddenly, everyone has something to say to someone else. How else to explain all the people we see daily with their noses stuck to a smartphone, even while driving.

We have apps for everything and many have made our lives easier and more enjoyable. But where to go from here? Barring hopeful technological advances in medicine and the sciences, how much more do we, as individuals, really need?

Spend any amount of time on the Apple or Android app sites and you’ll quickly realize that many people are expending their knowledge, time and energy creating some absurd things.

Do people really need an app to help them with bowel movements? (Bowel Mover PRO)  And once you’ve mastered that, you can download the ever popular Places I’ve Pooped app. Need explicit instructions on popping that pimple? Here’s Pimple Popper. And who wants an app to further piss off our angst ridden teenagers (Annoy-A-Teen), to tell us we shouldn’t phone or text that soon to be significant other while intoxicated (Drunk Dial NO!), and do I really want my cat pouncing and playing on my $500 iPad (Game for Cats on iPad).

At times like this I feel as if I’ve gone so far into the light that I’ve crossed to the dark side. And as this tech driven second life of mine continues, plans are already in the making to move along to a third life. More books, reading and writing, and less tech.

Even though Junior has thanked me numerous times for prodding her towards math & science, I honestly believe my advice would be different today. I’d try and steer her towards a degree in the humanities. We’re missing a lot of humanity these days.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to shut down my iTunes and set aside this state of the art MacBook Pro. Earlier today, Mrs. Lawrence left for an overnight business trip to Charleston. She always “forgets” to call to let me know she’s arrived safely, and she has the misfortune of being married to an ex-cop and techophobe with the means and ability to track her down….Find My Phone.

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