Our TiVo died. Not without fanfare, and certainly not without warning. For the past four months, in the most interesting part of any program, the picture was nearly guaranteed to break up, the progress of the story halted as we rooted for TiVo to heal itself and continue until we discovered who had killed whom. Foolishly I hoped that TiVo’s lapses were signs of a passing illness, best addressed by watching some of the many shows we had saved and freeing the hard drive for a little R&R. But not to be. Even the good folks at telephone support agreed that TiVo, who had served us so well for so many years, had succumbed for all time.
We have two televisions, an ancient big screen with the potential for high definition cable–once we figure out how to hook it up without TiVo as the mediator. And a small (?) 27″ with minimal cable access. Our evenings have changed drastically. What, watch what’s actually ON? I think not. Or pull the big TV away from the wall and try to figure out how to get it working again? Horrors!
So as we wait for one of our many sons to visit and hook it up in approximately six seconds, we marvel at the way our reliance on technology has affected (infected?) our lives. And we read. No punishment there.
Recently, watching yet another young mother pushing a stroller with one hand and chatting on her cell phone with another, I tried to remember the last time I saw any mom pushing a stroller without phone in hand. I could not. Having been an isolated, starved-for-conversation young mother, I can understand this, even as I wonder if anyone ever talks to the baby. Nor have I recently been in a restaurant without at least one diner on the phone shoveling food between cell phone sentences. Often while their dinner partner sits idly with no one left to converse with. The point of dinner together being?
This summer, in a lakeside community in which everyone is privy to whatever is said on nearby porches, I listened as several people habitually walked up and down the street conducting business at top volume on cell phones. I was just sorry they weren’t giving stock tips. I once sat in a hotel shuttle as a particularly ruthless and egotistical businessman loudly, gleefully fired someone on the other end of the line, as those of us imprisoned with him were forced to listen. I’ve waited in airports while fellow-passengers-to-be divulged sensitive information about the agencies they work for. Sadly, I now know more about the intricate workings of a certain branch of the Red Cross than I ever hoped to.
I write on a computer, own a first generation iPhone, and I enjoy all the wonders that technology has brought into my life. But at what point do we own it, and at what point does it own us? Exactly when have we sacrificed the joys of human interaction for the wonders of machinery? While we remain TV impaired, this is something I’ll ponder.
Pondering, by the way, is much easier to do when the cell phones are closed, the television is off, the iPad is put away, and crickets or the laughter of neighbors, are the only soundtrack. Pondering may be a lost art. I sincerely hope not.