..Steve Seepersaud..

Too Dependent On Technology?

Are we too dependent on technology? It's a question that's been running through my mind a lot lately.

It started a few days ago when I was having problems trying to access the Internet at home. Repeatedly getting booted after several minutes was very frustrating. That is, if I was even able to connect at all. If I was willing to spend more money, I could've opted for a cable Internet connection, but I had decided to stay in the 20th century with a dial-up.

I thought my Internet service provider was having problems, so I called the tech support number during a slow time at work. The person who answered my call was very polite, but couldn't help me very much. She said I needed to be at my home computer so she could walk me through a series of diagnostic steps.

Several hours later, I was home. So, I tried again to reach the help line. However, I couldn't even get through because the ISP was getting a large number of calls. For the time being, this confirmed my suspicion that the ISP was to blame. After all, if the company's phone lines are jammed up, it must be having problems all over.

But the next night, I found the root cause. I picked up my telephone to make a call, and there was very heavy static on the line. And the phone would go dead after a couple of seconds. It didn't matter if you were listening to a dial tone, or were in the middle of a call.

Of course, the next step was calling the phone company. I was told it would be a few days before they could send a repair technician. In my opinion, that person couldn't arrive quickly enough.

I almost panicked. What if it took a long time to get my phone fixed? What would I do until then? I spend a few hours online every day. Sometimes, I use it to help with writing projects. And other times, I use it for fun. It was actually a challenge to think of what I'd do without my home Internet connection. But, I did come up with a few ideas: hang out with friends, go fishing, watch TV, or (gasp) pick up a book and actually read. After a few days, the phone company did take care of the trouble. I went crazy that night, surfing the web for hours, not caring that no one could call me.

The phone ordeal reminded me of another stressful technology situation, this one at work. Our television station was severely hampered one day by a network outage. We couldn't access our e-mail. Not a big deal, because we could pick up a phone and call someone if needed. But the computer problems prevented us from feeding and receiving video via fiber optic lines. With the start of our news show 90 minutes away, we didn't want to scrap stories and select others because we couldn't get video. Also, a few other stations were depending on getting video from us. We couldn't access the Internet; so, we couldn't update the station's Web site, a task which actually carried a firm deadline of its own. Luckily, after a few hours, our information technology people got us back online.

In the year 2002, it's almost impossible to do business without technology. But in our personal lives, we could take steps to reduce our dependence on computers. I admit that I'm too dependent on technology, but I'm not willing to make a change in lifestyle. I'll just hope like mad that things work the way they're supposed to. I don't think many people will change their attitudes either. If anything, our dependence on technology will further increase, in this age of 'I need to reach this person now' or 'I need this information ASAP.'

© 2002 Steve Seepersaud Printed with permission.

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Links to previous "Tech Talk" column:
Internet Help for Fishing