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I can remember a conversation many years ago when a friend in the fledgling I.T. business told me about the concept of email. It was a pipe dream at the time. He described how it would be possible in the future to send a message that would be delivered instantaneously, at the touch of a button. I thought he had gone crazy; had been watching too many sci-fi films. Now it is completely taken for granted that we can communicate with anyone in the world at any time of day or night.
This is clearly a huge step forward in terms of convenience, but there is a major drawback. As well as receiving messages instantly you are expected to respond immediately! This is fine if you are at work in front of your screen all day and I know that if I want to contact my daughter during office hours, I am more likely to get a quick answer to an email than any other type of message. In the world of work this instant response is vital.
Not so in the world of semi-retirement. I switch on my laptop only when I need to work. My phone is on all the time but somehow I don't seem to get the automatic alerts when an email comes in. (As I write this I can picture my daughter's eyes rolling heavenwards!) I check my emails on a daily basis but I am not a slave to it and I feel sorry for those who have to be. It is so easy to miss an important message amongst the myriad of junk. When there is something that requires a reply, I don't automatically feel the need to respond. But the fact remains that many of us are tied to our screens in a way that would have been unthinkable back in the 70s.
I was at the airport the other day and was struck by the apparent need for everyone around me to be glued to their phone, laptop or tablet. What were they all doing? The business types who can't escape the pressure of the office even while they wait for their planes; the youngster’s texting furiously before being told by impatient crew to switch off their phones for take-off; children manically stabbing at the screen of their tablet. The only exceptions were me, with my battered paperback and my penchant for people-watching and an older lady with an adult colouring book!
Then again I can be as guilty of being addicted to technology. I found myself thinking of how reliant we are on our gadgets and apps. If my husband is making a call in the car and the signal fails, he gets unreasonably irritated. I remind him that only 35 years ago just the thought of making a call from the car was a novelty. These days I don't know what I would do without my mobile phone even though I rarely use it to make calls. It's all the other functions that make it indispensable and I go into a blind panic if the battery is running low!
So apart from the phone here is my Top 5 list of tech related essentials:
I still don't know what all the apps on my phone are capable of, or what all the gadgets in PC World can do, but the technology I use works for me and I am always open to learning more. Just don't ask me to get my head around an Xbox!!