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.

4 Comments

  1. Lynn Ross on September 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Hi, Emilie:
    This is excellent! I totally agree with you. I lived for 61 years without a cell phone but now find after 9 years of having one, I would not want to be without it, but there is such a thing as ettiquette to be observed – or is there. And, as long as there are books, journals and/or my own imagination, I can live without cable. My computer would be harder to let go, I must admit, but I still own pens and paper, and when pressed, I can go out and seek company without Facebook. So, I would say that I am connected to technology and thrilled by it, but it will never own me. I so relate to your having to wait for a son or daughter to happen by to help you with your TV. Even my granddaughters are able to help us out now and then. Ted, with seven years of college, still has trouble with the DVD player, and I am a total loss. Love your writing as always.

  2. Nancy on September 11, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I am totally frustrated with computers. Why is it, you no sooner get a program or platform down pat and they go and upgrade it, making you have to learn something new and different? Ugh! My bank is no longer using MS Money after Oct. 1, which I have been using for years, so I went out and bought Quicken and was told “it’s so easy to convert from Money to that!” NOT!!! I’ve had to install and uninstall four times and still haven’t gotten my files converted. ARGH!!!

  3. Emilie Richards on September 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I definitely feel your pain. Keeping up with all the changes could be a full time job in itself.

  4. Debbie Haupt on September 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Hi Emily, I am what you might call semi-connected. Yes I have cell phone, but only use it to, that’s right, make calls, no photos, no web. I have a Nook because so many publications I review for are strictly e-reads.
    At work I’m connected out the wazzo for internet etc, but at home, I still have dial up. Oh and I can’t tell you the last time I watched TV, but hubby couldn’t live without his direct TV, not TiVo, even our DVD player is not hooked up.
    But I live around and work around people who couldn’t live one minute without being super connected, even my daughter couldn’t be without her blackberry for too long and even brings over her laptop when she does her laundry at mom’s.
    Thanks for the article
    Deb

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