Technology is not the enemy.

I think the computer age gets a bad rap from people who call themselves “old fashioned” or more personal and sentimental.  I just spent about four days without the internet and, let me tell you, it felt like you old fashioned people would feel if you found out that the Pony Express was on vacation.  With no offense meant to the lovely little warm place I call my home, I felt like I was totally disconnected from the “real world.”* I couldn’t buy tickets to the Christmas play.  I couldn’t book our let-praises-shout-forth-Matt-is-finally-graduating-from-law-school-vacation-celebration reservations.  I couldn’t even look up the phone numbers I needed so I could do it all by phone.  Matt told me to put together emergency kits for the car due to our “Blizzard Warning,” but I couldn’t do a 30-second online research project about what items should be included.  And give me a break, it’s not like I’m going to pack up the kids and go to the library and sort through a card catalog to find an article in a magazine from 1987 about car kits.  (So I just resorted to chocolate, latin music CDs and warm socks– I figure if I’m going to freeze to death on the side of the freeway, I might as well be with the things I love.)  (I’m kidding.  I’m more responsible than that.  I got a blanket and flares.  And once I can get out of my driveway again, I’ll buy some chocolate.)

I’m rambling.  Sorry.

Anyway, my point is:  The internet is good.  Very good.  And it’s not even impersonal.  I mean look at you (a person) reading my blog right now.  And when you (again, a person) comment on my blog, it’s a tidbit of personal interaction that most likely would not exist in my otherwise scraping-oatmeal-off-the-table-and-forcing-antibiotics-down-screaming-throats-and-drying-wet-gloves-by-the-fire kind of day.  It brings unanticipated and pleasant human contact into my day.  Some of my friends that live inside this computer are:

  1. people I met and knew once, but not as well as I would have liked to and yet this virtual world has reunited us and built our friendship stronger,
  2. people with whom I’ve emailed and even phone-called for advice or to share a funny thought, and I consider them real friends even though we’ve never even laid eyes on each other,
  3. other people I’ve never met at all, but feel like if we met up at any given moment at the Cheesecake Factory, we could sit there together for hours laughing and talking (and consuming cheesecake unabashedly) as if we’ve known each other for ages, and
  4. really creepy lurker people who pull up my blog daily just like to look at my profile picture longingly (because who doesn’t fantasize about being a stay-at-home mom with three children who give them adventures like this?  Okay, I admit it, there are some unhealthy sides to virtual networking.  If you happen to belong to this category, please don’t let me know because I’d like to continue sleeping well at night.)

And I do like getting a nice, handwritten note in the mail now and then, but I don’t think email is impersonal unless the author writes impersonally. Grant entered the technology age this week and wrote his very first email.

Hi granpa I am haveing so much fun with granma I miss you this is my frst leter on the compooter you are my favrit granpa from Grant

I think it’s among the top 10 cutest things I’ve seen in my life.  And he was overjoyed when the very next day there was a note back from Grandpa.  So I like technology.  A lot.  And I’d cancel my gym membership, dental cleanings, and insurance on my car before I’d cancel my Internet.  Because I’m such a people person, of course.

(*Disclaimer:  with all due respect to this great talk by Elder Bednar, ” Things As They Really Are,” I know that what matters most is not virtual.  What’s real is what’s important, but I do love getting to know the real people behind the virtual friendships I’ve found through blogging.)
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23 thoughts on “Technology is not the enemy.

  1. We had our branch conference a few Sundays ago, where the Branch President proceeded to talk about the evils of the Internet. That was awesome.

    All I kept thinking was how I wouldn’t have met my eternal companion without the Interent. Or how my dear friends would not have adopted their sweet little boy had we not connected through blogging.

    Like with everything, there is bad, but I like to look at the overwhelming good.

  2. Thank goodness somebody else is able to explain this. I feel the same way. 🙂 I love technology because I get to video chat with my mom whenever we’re both home. She gets to see her grandchild just about whenever she wants. And while it’s not as awesome and personal as a visit, it’s so much more interactive than a letter or a phone call.

  3. I’m with Kristina. I wouldn’t have met my husband if there were not internet and I think I would be sad to find out I missed out on getting him.

    I like the internet, I just don’t like the amount of time that I spend on it sometimes. But I am working on that. So glad you are back, Steph.

  4. I’m with you 100%. I use it every single day. I did all my christmas shopping online. I check my bank account balance every single day. I keep up with old friends, meet new ones that absolutely make my life easier… and it’s so stinkin useful! At the end of the summer, I found an awesome spider with my kids outside. So we took a picture, then spent half an hour searching arachnid photos online until we found out what it was, where it lives… that sort of thing. All good things can be abused, but that doesn’t make them inherently bad.

  5. I like Elder Bednar’s talk a lot. It is true that when we are not careful and spend too much time online, we neglect the people that are important to us in our immediate social unit. We forget to help and serve them. Sometimes I find I’m so caught up sharing the Gospel on my Church blog that I don’t realize that I’m not sharing the Gospel with my immediate friends and work colleagues. On the other hand, I can see how the internet can also do much good in the world. For one combined Relief Society/Priesthood Meeting in our ward, we discussed Elder Ballard’s talk about using technology as an effective tool to spread our message to the world. It’s a great talk, and inspired me to reach out to even more people around the world…

  6. I’m trying to put myself in one of your categories but I don’t think I fit unless I’m one of the creepy people who look at your face longingly because I wish I were as smart as you?

    Internet good! Mommy sanity good!

    Any technology that allows me to order a giant fan for my #4 child (the only girl left at home) from Hong Kong without having to make an international call (who does that anymore? Who knew how in the first place?) and tangle with language differences is GOOD technology.

    I’m glad you’re back in the blogging saddle. My internet routine was sadly lacking without you.

  7. Hear, hear. Yes, the Internet is amazing. It’s responsible for much of my sanity and many of my recipes and virtually all of my communication. I’m just glad I pay enough attention to my family now. It’s all about balance. And avoiding the truly evil side of the Internet, of course.

    I definitely have never been the die hard, comment leaving reader (mostly because I stopped being that for anyone a while ago) but I would LOVE to hang out with you. Let me know next time you’re in Poland and we will!

  8. I work from home online. My job supported myself and my daughter for years until I found my husband (though I didn’t meet him online). It helps me stay in touch with my family in other states and countries, and I wouldn’t be able to talk to any of them with such regularity without it.

    I’m working on not spending so much time on it outside of work, but it’s hard. Good and bad to everything…

  9. Any time you’re in Oregon… 🙂 Sometimes I think I rely a little TOO much on the internet! But it really is a blessing and I definitely love the adult “conversations” I can have because of it!

  10. Steph, thank you for your comment on my blog. I must admit that I was feeling pretty good about having 3 kids until I read your post about taking Natalie to the doctor! (Ha Ha, I’m kidding….mostly) Hope she is feeling better, by the way.

    Anyway, my life as a stay at home mom has been transformed SO MUCH for the better since we got the internet. For me, it has been such a good thing-I really can’t stress this enough. I had a day without internet last week, and it seemed like the longest day of my life!

  11. Totally love the internet. And I have an entire DISCOURSE on the subject of “Things as they really are” including non-technology experiences like trusting investment managers just because they’re LDS or thinking that being a visiting teacher is the same thing as being a friend.

    I won’t deliver it, because I also love my temple recommend.

  12. And since I’m pretty sure I fit every one of your categories except the creepy stalker one, that’s one more reason for me to love this virtually-real world!!

  13. You know, I was pondering over this the other day, and I’ve discovered that I’m not as addicted to blogging, face-booking, or otherwise computerizing as I once was. But it’s nice to know that no matter what ends up filling my days or weeks, I can always pop back on and reconnect with hundreds of strangers (more or less) in a heartbeat, and then I feel like myself again. Sometimes, we just need to have a conversation about stuff with people who are there, been there, or are going there themselves, but a totally arbitrary, anonymous sort of way that we don’t have to face up to those people at church on Sunday. It’s kind of like getting a secret glimpse into the private lives of these total strangers, and by doing so, you feel like your private life is totally validated.

    Babbling. I think. I’m a little doped up on cold meds right now, so I don’t know if any of that made sense. But I do understand what you are saying, even if you don’t understand me.

    Okay. I’ll stop now. Love ya’.

  14. I agree. I can order books from the library and check out prices without dragging my kids through a million stores. I can feel connected to my family across the country and find people who match my quirky personality. Every time I look up a recipe or google something I just heard but want to know more about, I wonder that none of this was available a little more than a decade ago. How else would I get my husband a magnetic golf clip for your hat with BYU’s logo on it or that Wayne Newton Christmas CD he listened to all through childhood and has wanted to find for years?

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