Technology: Blessing or Curse?

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. On top of normal work/life craziness, I’ve been hit with the one-two-punch of phone and car troubles.

IMG_3770Last weekend, I had the JOY of spending an evening with my good friend, Teagen, who was in town for work and the Chicago Marathon. We had a wonderful and rare opportunity to catch up face to face, without the help of Skype. It was relaxing and life giving. We were only briefly interrupted by the regular Chicago moment of a stranger coming up to ask for money/donations to an ambiguous sports team. The young man hovered at our table, presenting a pamphlet of some kind asking for cash. After eventually convincing him that neither of us had any cash on us, he slumped away and out of the restaurant. We continued to chat for another half an hour before deciding to call it an early night. We hugged and I went to grab for my phone in my purse, only to discover it was gone. It wasn’t in the restaurant. it wasn’t in her hotel room. That desperate “Athlete” had swiped my phone off the table, as he was showing us his pamphlet. AAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

The joyful meeting had suddenly turn fully annoying. I called the cops, who called apple, who sent me an email (after about an hour on hold). We ran back to Teagen’s hotel room to use her computer, which was a secure work computer, which made google think someone was breaking into my account, which made it lock me out and only offered me the option of sending a new password via TEXT! I then had to call Google to get into gmail (put on hold again), to get my apple email, to get the phone erased, to get the police report filed. I got home about 4 1/2 hours later exhausted, with adrenaline coursing through my veins. What a hassle! The next day, I went to At&t, who connected me with my insurance company, who sent me out a new phone, which I received yesterday.

And the car (there IS a point to this post beyond complaining, I promise). I drove to my Figaro performance at my normal call time for the show, 9:15pm (yep.. when I want to be in bed) and had a great show! When starting my car afterwards to drive my colleague and myself home, I noticed a whining noise, which culminated in the thing dying outside of my colleagues apartment building around 11:15pm. Already exhausted, I called AAA and waited. The technician showed up within about 30 minutes, and quickly figured out that it was the alternator and the battery. It would have to be towed. He called it in and assured me that the tow truck would be there within the hour. I got a call from AAA, telling me their ETA was 2:15am. Ugh… not great, but whatever. 2:20am roles around and I call to check on the tow truck. New ETA 3:15am. The truck gets there at 3:30am and very quickly loads my poor, dead car (while I, shivering, run to the CVS across the street to go to the bathroom… it had been a LONG wait), and drives it to the Sears auto right by my house. He unloads it and drops me off at 4:00am. Woof.

I am happy to say, a week after the phone and a day after the car, I have a new phone and a fixed car. I could now start a long diatribe about the evils of technology and how they only complicate out lives… but I’m not going to do that.

As I sit here on my day off, thinking through the past events, the frustrations really had very little to do with technology. In fact, technology is what made it all better. My phone was stolen by a person. I actually was ok right after it happened, it’s only a phone, until I had to sit on hold and call all these numbers and WAIT. But I worked myself up over waiting. Over being impatient. My phone, with all my important information, was stolen and within 24 hours, technology allowed me to wipe my phone clean, lock them out, find their location (if they ever turn it on), order me a replacement, load ALL the information from my previous phone on the new one, and made the phone basically worthless to the thieves. I find myself honestly looking at the situation, which was annoying, but frankly, it’s only a thing. It can be and was quickly replaced. A person stole it and I freaked out because I had to wait. All the while, technology was fixing it. Crazy.

IMG_7306While last night, waiting for the tow truck, was a LONG night, one phone call got my car looked at and towed to a Sears, which had it fixed by this afternoon. Again, the only real problems were lack of sleep, waiting, and money. Relatively small in the scope of life and whats important.

I know is popular today to berate our generation’s dependance on technology in every area of our lives, especially relationships. While I whole-heartedly agree with many of the criticisms, I don’t fully subscribe to the doomed perspective. Yes, I am concerned for kids who grow up with cyber-bullying, never having to see the faces of those they pick on, taking away the chance to develop empathy and am constantly frustrated with the texting games that go on in the dating world. And I, obviously, fully champion having face to face dialogues and debates and hate to see how easily social media creates a world of “Us vs. Them”.IMG_3561

However, I think, when we are our parents ages, we will see that technology allowed us to stay in touch with those we love in a special and unique way. My dinner with Teagen was, in large part, thanks to Skype and phones, which have allowed us to stay close friends years after we left St. Olaf, even though she lives in Portland and I in Chicago. In fact, I have so many close and special friends in my life because we can sit and have coffee over Skype, while living thousands of miles away from each other. Skype has allowed me to see my nieces and nephews grow up and they have gotten to know me, even when I wasn’t able to visit often. I think its rare for my parent’s generation to still be in close touch with high school or even college friends. While our generation may struggle to find depth in the new relationships they start because of the dangers of text communicating, we are allowed the joy of keeping and cultivating relationships with people we have met at every stage of our life. We know what their kids look like and instantly hear of life milestones, thanks to things like Facebook and Instagram, which reminds us to call and keep in touch.

IMG_2678-1Of course, technology complicates our lives more than they use to be, but it truly is what you make it. If you use Facebook and texting as a way to avoid having real friendships, then YOU are choosing to not engage in relationships. I’m just grateful I have friends and family who use it as a vehicle to be in my life.

And I’m just grateful for AAA.

(Oh, and the top picture of two of my nieces staring at a computer, was the first time they got to see Auntie Laura sing. They sat and watched ALL of the video of my Cendrillon (Cinderella) opera. And I was able to watch them enjoy it. Yep. Technology made for a pretty special moment there.)

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