Tuesday, December 19, 2006


When I worked on Wall Street I was known for always being on the "bleeding edge" of new technology. Within my department, I put the first IBM-AT on a trading desk (Well, under it. And then some wiseass came along and slapped a sticker on it that read "Wurlitzer", after I did).

I continued to lead the pack on purchasing the latest/greatest tech for my trading floors until I walked away from the street in 1994.

And that's when I finally bought a computer for home. I also bought a Sony Rear Projection 48" TV, a Pioneer LaserDisk player, a handful of LaserDisks to play on it along with several thousand gallons of booze to kill myself with as I enjoyed the end of my life in TechniColor, Dolby-Digital SurroundSound and Wide-Screen (LetterBoxed).

Well, the booze and money ran out three years later and the tech got locked in time.

Now I've been sober since 1998 and the tv has been downsized to a 34" flat-screen Sony (Love them Sonys! It'll be the last NTSC tv I'll own.), and I got a DVD player (but I still look at "Jurassic Park" on my old LaserDisk, along with the 2nd Indiana Jones movie, "Temple of Doom" -- but only because the opening number, "Anything Goes", sung in Chinese by Steven Spielberg's wife, is a real rip-snorter!)

I like technology that helps us to work smarter or better, or entertains the hell out of us.

However.... and this is where I seem to have drawn the line ... I don't have a cellphone.

I hate 'em. I think they're the devil's own invention, right up there with Brussel sprouts, beepers, boomboxes and Crack, er, BlackBerries (and Treos, and whatever).

Wasn't the workday long enough? Do we need to invent ways to make it even longer? Weren't people annoyed ENOUGH by co-workers during the day, do they need MORE aggravation at home, or on the bus or train?

PDAs and cellphones are not improvements on people's lives. They makes lives crappier and worse. No, I don't need to be "in touch" for an extra hour or two or three a day. I'm in touch enough.

I have an answering machine. At the sound of the beep leave a message and I'll get back to you when I'm damn good and ready!

PCs were a vast improvement on the way information and, more importantly, the speed at which information, travelled to people who needed to make split-second decisions involving hundreds of millions of dollars. They didn't drag the friggin' things home with them after the trading day had ended. That came later, with the invention of another annoying application called "e-mail." People used to pick up the phone and call each other. Yeah, they played phone-tag, but not as much as they do now. People used to actually "think" about what they were going to say before they said it. Now we just fire-off e-mails, often in the heat of the moment, without taking that moment of grace to cool off and think about what we are doing.

We now live in a society that's more apt to "ready, fire, aim" than it is to calmly think about what needs to be done.

I've become a Neo-Luddite. An anti-technologist.

Not all technology is good (nor is it all bad). But sometimes it just serves to eat chunks of our souls.

1 comment:

Bev Sykes said...

I have mixed feelings about cell phones. I hate the fact that they have distanced us from each other--now you can't go anywhere without being surrounded by people on their cell phones. People can't even wait long enough to get into the airport before pulling out their cell phones--when the wheels touch down on the runway, there are all those calls that can't wait another 5 minutes. Like you, I like being unavailable and often forget to take my phone with me.

However, Jeri and I text message all the time, which I love, because we wouldn't do this much e-mailing or talking on the phone. I like the security of having it for emergencies, but if you told me that I had to give up one of my technical gadgets, it would be a no-brainer. The cell phone would be the very first to go.