Are your electronic gizmos getting you down?

Convenient for whom?

I heard a commercial for a satellite dish system the other day. If you buy (rent?) their system you get some gizmo that will allow you to put TV shows on pause in order to finish watching them when you are done with dinner or a phone call.
Sounds really spiffy, but not for me thanks. I am glad the days of the VCR are gone because I could never figure out how to set the timer so it would record something while I was going to be gone. This got me thinking about all the “convenient” technology we have available to us now and I was wondering if things were really all that convenient.
My new cell phone (yup, the one that makes noises every time anything happens in or around it) has the added “convenience” of a camera. First off, I had no desire for a camera in my phone – I just wanted a phone that would work better than my old one. Well, if you want a phone that combines digital and analog technology so it works just about anywhere in Michigan, then it will have a camera in it at the Verizon store. Since one of my motivators for having a cell phone is in case something should happen while I am tooling around the back roads on my motorcycle, I HAD to get one with digital/analog capability and therefore a camera.
I resisted the camera for a couple weeks, and then figured I should at least try it out. Taking a picture outside is a complete hassle, because the little dinky screen gets all washed out in natural light so you can’t see what you are aiming the camera at. I just hoped and clicked to get my picture. The resulting picture was nothing to write home about. Very grainy and didn’t really capture what I wanted it to capture since I had no idea what was in the shot. Camera phone is a big dud in my opinion.
Let us examine cell phones a bit more. Without a doubt they have saved many lives, relationships, and business deals. However, I find myself getting tired of allowing people to have access to me wherever and whenever. I also tire of listening to people have phone conversations in every store and restaurant I visit, to say nothing of all the knuckle-headed drivers who are more intent on their conversation than what is on the road around them. I guess cell phones are a convenient pain in the butt.
Another convenient pain is e-mail. As a part-time writer for a couple of different publications I would admittedly be lost without the ability to e-mail stories to my editors. As with the cell phone, it is hard to keep work from creeping into all seven days of the week at just about any time of day via e-mail.
We get so used to being able to communicate with everyone instantly it can be aggravating when this ability gets thwarted. Recently the director of our small (she is the only paid staff person) chamber of commerce took a well deserved week off. She left my number “for emergencies” on the answering machine at her office. Apparently people consider not being able to get in touch with Liz for a week an emergency because I was receiving all kinds of calls and requests for information, none of which fell into my definition of an emergency. When I called Liz to ask her to change the outgoing message, she told me she had been getting calls at home. People and technology just don’t seem to want to let her have any time off.
Here is a little test for you cell phone and e-mail junkies. Try turning off your cells and letting you e-mails go unread for ONE WHOLE DAY. See if you can handle it – after all, these things are supposed to make our lives more convenient. They exist for us – not the other way around.
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