I was sitting at my then favorite restaurant, Joe’s American Bar & Grill, on my 11th birthday. My parents told me when they were buying my present, the guy behind the counter at Best Buy asked if it was for a colleague or a friend. “No actually, for my daughter’s 11th birthday.”
My very own PocketPC. In the pre-Mac OSX days, I was a PC girl of course (thankfully Steve Jobs changed all of that *pours a sip out for the big man*.) After teaching my mom how to do things like “save a contact” in her Palm Pilot (and subsequently stealing it to play Tetris and Dope Wars,) my parents realized what I’d been pining for that year for my birthday.
Sure, it seems like no big. For an 11-year-old it was just a more sleek-looking gameboy (unfortunately, without Super Mario Bros.) But for me it was the beginning of something much bigger. I’d been used to writing down my thoughts in a small journal. Now, I was typing them into my handheld PC, e-mailing them to myself. I could access them at my cousin’s house, in the library at school. I stopped using a planner, and started making to-do lists in my PocketPC. Suddenly my mental content, which had previously only occupied my mind or little slips of paper, had moved on to a different space. There was now this virtual realm I was inhabiting at all times without consciously realizing it. Though I shouldn’t have been able to until I was 18, part of me had already checked out of typical childhood that year. The full repercussions wouldn’t occur to me until years later. But I’ll always remember that birthday as the summer I moved out of my house, and onto my digital cloud 9.
Do not worry. This blog won’t be about my childhood stories. It will, however, be about those moves we all make forward in our technological endeavors that pose meaningful consequences in our progression as humans. How did our cell phones become our extended limbs? When did our online social network presence begin to affect our peace of mind outside of the digital world? There are plenty of futurists out there who believe these steps are necessary to our advancement as humans. And plenty of naturalists who say that technology is an inevitable enemy to our humanity. I don’t believe the issue is as black and white as some may think. I do think that many of the negative consequences of this digital age can be avoided by simply cultivating an awareness of the impact technology has on our selves. Stick around with me as I explore this digital cocoon we’re all transforming inside of. Hopefully we’ll all come out alive, and maybe even–bionic.