Geeks, Gadgets, and the Good of the People

 

By Daniel Kedinger

Disclaimer: This post may contain technical jargon, but this doesn’t mean the average Joe or Jane can’t read it. I’ll make sure to alert you when geek-speak is on the horizon. That is all.

I am by all definitions a geek, a gadget guru, or as we are referred to sometimes, a gear-head. If it is powered by electricity and has some cool function, you can be sure you will find it on my wishlist. I have always had an affinity for things that move, buzz, beep and light up. Now that I am an adult and have discretionary income you can be sure a large part of it is earmarked for Best Buy and ThinkGeek.com.

But the question arises, even for me, does our technology really help or hurt our daily lives? We can’t argue that technology has provided life-saving medical care or that advances in the industrial space have made it easier and cheaper to produce goods in our country. My question is more to the human level. Do our devices and gadgets bring us closer as human beings in a community of people?

More than ever we have technology that claims to help us always stay connected to our friends and family, but what really happens is that we become connected to the device and not the people on the other side. I feel a deep sense of fear when I realize I have left my cell phone at home; it has become a modern day security blanket, albeit with voice recognition, wifi/3g, and a retina display. (Whoops…forgot to warn you the geek-speak was coming. Follow the links for more explanation.)

I don’t want to sound like a doom-and-gloom-ist, but I think technology can be a wonderful thing if we keep our eye on the prize, which is increasing our interaction with people we care about. Geek-speak alert, if I use my fancy-dancy Facetime video-calling feature or Skype to see my wife and children while on a business trip, it has done its job. But if I eat dinner with friends and we all stay on our cell phones texting at the table it has failed.

Gadgets have the potential to connect us or aid us in ways our grandparents could never have imagined. But let’s not forget how our grandparents would have used them; namely, as tools to solve a problem or help a need — not as an end in themselves. So next time you are sitting with your grandfather or grandmother, let’s use the iPad to show them our beautiful new grandchildren and not just play the newest edition of Angry Birds.

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