I am ashamed to admit it, but I am hopelessly addicted to modern technology. It’s not enough to have the latest flat screen, plasma, LED, 3D capable, 85″ television set available, I have to have one that can balance my checkbook while organizing the comments from my Facebook friends and Twitter followers at the same time. I need a toaster that butters my toast and offers a choice of jams in addition to actually, you know, toasting. If they’ve invented it, I will probably own it at some point soon. If I were being chased by a T-1000 Terminator (you know, one shaped like Arnold Schwarzenegger from those movies), I would probably see if there was a way to use him to post MPEG files to my Flicker account before bothering to run. It’s a real problem.
The twelve step people say that admitting there is a problem is the first step toward a resolution, so consider this my cry for help. I started to realize that there was an issue when I was playing with my new cell phone last night. I mentioned before that I recently started working for a big cell phone company, right? One of the perks we get is free service and considerable discounts on the phones themselves. Naturally I got a pretty nice one, the HTC Evo Shift 4G. That lasted maybe two weeks. then HTC released a fancier-dancier phone, the HTC Evo 3D. “It takes 3D photos and videos,” I exclaimed, “And it has a Dual Core Processor!” Phrases like Dual Core Processor and X Gigabytes of RAM have given me techno-geek wood for years. Anyway, I took advantage of the company’s 30-day return policy and exchanged my now old-news Evo Shift for the nifty new 3D. As long as something better (read: with more bells and whistles) doesn’t show up in the next month, I should be good.
Can I really be blamed? You don’t expect m eto play Angry Birds on some 2008 flip-phone, do you?
I can’t pinpoint when my affinity for technology really began. It’s not as clear as something like our first drink or first cigarette or first sexual experience. These are things that usually come at a specific age and after a considerable amout of waiting and consideration. Technology is thrust upon us whether we’re interested or not. My earliest memories are not of running around out5side playing ball with my brother or tag with my dad. They are of sitting in my room in the big Bubba Bear (such a thing existed, I promise) rocking chair while the electronic babysitter showed me the exploits of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch and Ernie and Bert on Sesame Street. The Street gave way to The Electric Company (I can still hear Rita Moreno’s cry of “Hey you guyyyyys…”), which led to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood which transitioned into Zoom! and Villa Allegre! before the cycle started again with Sesame Street.
You could say I watched too much TV as a kid.
Of course as I got older the magic of Sesame Street lost its hold on me and I moved into a world of reruns of Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch as well as that seminal 70’s favorite, Happy Days. Technology took a bit of a lull during my childhood, and things remained more or less the same for a few years. I do remember getting interested in home movies when I was about ten or so. Technology comes and goes, as we know, and I remember being very interested in a doomed technology called Polavision. This was a precursor to VCRs and camcorders and such. It shot silent home movies in color (kind of) that were viewable almost instantly, but could only be watched on a special viewer also sold by Polaroid. All in all it was a bad idea, but I wanted one oh so badly. In my mind I was the next George Lucas and all I needed was a motion picture camera to shoot my own opus. I never got one. My mother insisted at the time that we just couldn’t afford such luxuries and she was probably right. For years after any time I saw something with a famous film director talking about the home movies he made as a kid I’d make a point to show it to mom. Avatar could have been mine. I just want you to know that, mom.
Around the same time that I was yearning for a Polavision, I had another technological itch to scratch. A neighborhood friend had gotten the coolest thing as a birthday present. It was an early game system made by Magnavox and it was called the Odyssey. This thing was like Pong on steroids and was actually pretty old by the time I saw it. The link I just gave you will stste that it was first released in 1972 and discontinued by 1975, but this had to be about 1978 that my friend wound up with one. Maybe he’d got it used or at a garage sale? In any case, this game and its primitive graphics and controls launched me on what would be a lifelong love affair with gaming and the technology that drives it. The Odyssey led to the Odyssey II (with its hilarious mock-computer appearance) which led to the Atari 2600, the Atari 5200, the Commodore 64 computer, the Nintendo NES, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, The Sony PlayStation, the PlayStation 2, the Xbox, and finally the Xbox 360. Note that I did not actually own all of these systems, but wished for and drooled over many of them, especially when they were on display in the electronics section of the local Montgomery Ward store.
And always watching me with a devilish grin was Technology himself. He was my pimp and my drug dealer and my bookie all rolled into one and he delights in the pain he has caused me. And the joy.
So televisions, video games, a brief infatuation with stereo equipment in my teens, VCR’s and DVDs and computers in my young adulthood, and here we are with cell phones. It doesn’t show any signs of stopping and I am clearly hopelessly addicted. Maybe I can stop with this nifty 3D phone.
Of course there is the Apple iPad…