Amazed by Technology

Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

Isn’t technology amazing? I don’t know how a lot of this stuff works; I just know that it does… most of the time. And when it doesn’t, my life is in total and utter chaos.

I’m not what you might call “cutting edge” when it comes to technology. I’m not an early adopter. I don’t lag behind and stubbornly refuse to join in either. I try to incorporate some newer productivity stuff into my daily routine, and more often than not, I spend way too much time on my phone.

I’m not old. I’m not young. I’m what Iliza Shlesinger calls an “elder millennial”. I was born in 1981. Some would say that makes me part of the “Xennial” generation — part Gen X, part Millennial — but I think I prefer “elder millennial”. It makes me feel distinguished.

Wonders of Satellite Radio

I’m really fascinated by my satellite radio lately. I listen to it a lot. Well, whenever I’m cruising around in my minivan — like all elder millennials should.

There are some people who scoff at the idea of satellite radio. “You can get the radio for free,” they say. “Why would you pay for it?” To which I say, “You can get television for free, but you probably still pay for cable.” Why? Options.

That’s what technology does, right? It gives us options. We don’t have to just watch three channels, and then get screwed out of our regular shows when the president decides he wants some national exposure. We don’t live in the dark ages, people!

You know what’s great about satellite radio? I don’t have to change the channel. I can go on a 1,000-mile road trip, and never have to touch the dial. I can listen to the same show, regardless of where I am, simply by getting in the car or listening on the app. It’s amazing!

You know what’s not great about satellite radio? Awnings. Seriously, awnings are the great downfall of satellite radio technology. I can drive from New York to L.A., listening to MLB Network Radio nonstop… until I go to McDonald’s, or Wendy’s, or Arby’s, whatever, pick your poison.

As I sit listening to the recap from last night’s baseball action, I pull into the drive thru, order my food, pull up to the window, and, suddenly, NO SIGNAL. You gotta be kidding me, right?

I’m listening to a show with two hosts, who are in different parts of the country, being put on with producers that are in a third location, their signal is going up to OUTER SPACE and this little two-foot overhang in the McDonald’s drive thru is interrupting the signal! Amazing, right?

Smartphones… or Something

One of the joys of being an elder millennial is that I can remember what life was like in the days before smartphones. I didn’t actually get my first smartphone until 2007, after I got my Masters and started in my career. And, to be honest, it’s not really fair to call it a “smart” phone. It was more like a “it tried really hard and got solid C’s” phone. So, as you can tell from the description… it was a Blackberry.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Blackberries had their place. For me, it’s a cobbler, but that’s another story for another time. I could check the scores on baseball games in the summer, and it had a really tiny keyboard that I could fat-finger my way through all my typing mistakes, but that was about it. Oh, and it had an operating system that started acting wonky after a year.

But now, I’m up to date… if the date is two years ago. I have an iPhone 8 Plus (that “plus” is important!). This sucker needs an update every couple of weeks it seems. I don’t always update it right away. Sometimes, I don’t even update it until something isn’t going right, and then I think to myself: the update will probably address this issue. It does… sometimes.

What’s interesting about these updates though is getting back onto the phone after it has restarted. One of the cool things is that I can use my thumbprint to unlock my phone… that is… until I do restart it for one reason or another. Because for some reason, it can’t read my thumbprint after a restart. I have to type in the 6-digit code. I don’t know why. Is the code somehow more secure than my thumbprint, and that’s why they want me to use it? Does my thumbprint change when the phone restarts? I don’t know.

Multi-use Technology

The other cool thing about my phone is the fact that it doubles as a camera, a game system, a pocket calculator, a planner, a laptop, a drink mixer and a lawnmower (okay, maybe not the last two). It’s everything that my teachers said I wouldn’t be able to take with me. I think that’s what really caused this rapid innovation in the tech world.

Little Stevie was sitting in class, wanting to use his calculator on a test, and his teacher was all like, “You’re not always going to have a calculator with you!” And he thought to himself, “Oh, we’ll see about that, Mrs. Sanchez! I’ll show you! I’ll show all of you!” Then he stormed out of class and started making computers in his garage until here we are with a multi-use device that makes teachers obsolete. (I’m kidding! Teachers play an important and formative role in our lives. Except for Stevie, but he was a punk anyway and nobody liked him, especially not Mrs. Sanchez who can’t even name one of her children “Steve” now because of this brat.) Really, modern technology is just one kid’s way of getting back at his teacher.

Technological Pace

What’s really amazing about technology these days is how fast it seems to be improving. Think about it: back in the ‘40’s or ‘50’s or whatever, a computer was the size of a studio apartment in New York City, and cost three times as much.

In the ‘80’s, you could get a desktop computer that you had to carry in both arms and a monitor that needed to be plugged into it.

In the ‘90’s, laptops started becoming more popular, so you could be portable. Sure, the batteries only lasted for an hour if it had one at all, but you could carry your laptop to class, take notes, and then get out that obnoxiously long cord that needed to be plugged in and draped over the feet of the four people that sat between you and the outlet.

Then, smartphones started coming out; laptops got smaller, thinner, lighter and extended their battery life; tablets took the smartphone idea and removed the phone part of it — a phonectomy, if you will (but who still doesn’t love holding up their iPad to their ear and shouting, “HELLO!?!?”)

Have you ever wanted to go back in time to the person that invented the first computer, show them your phone and amaze them with the technological capabilities of our time? It would be pretty hard to do that, though. Not because of the time travel part, but because you probably couldn’t get a signal back then. Can you imagine what the roaming charges would be like? Yeesh!

Anyway, in summation, technology is cool, but weird. Frustrating, but necessary. And the people who thought they were changing the way the world worked never probably realized that we would use it to play mindless games where we grew fake farms and crushed fake candy.

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Matt Swisher

Matt Swisher

Just some guy who is looking to make my pocket of the world a better place. Life is a journey; let’s walk together and help each other along the way.