For the sake of being concise I am only going to talk about technology that comes in the physical form (like computers, phones, television etc…) and how my experiences with these devices in my earlier childhood have shaped how I interact with them now.
Pre Grade School
My first memory of technology came from music and games. When I was younger I was only looking for ways to entertain myself and, although I did spend the majority of my time outside in our back yard playing with the hose, turning over stones, or climbing trees, I do have some early memories of using the computer for fun. I specifically remember playing a Winnie the Pooh computer game and a Stellaluna computer game. They were essentially books online that you could read and interact with. I actually found a video of both recently and it was a bit freaky to watch; I remember what would come next in the game, how the page was arranged, things the characters said, and the intonation in their voice.
I also remember music being a large part of my childhood. We had TONS of records, tapes, and CDs in my house growing up. I remember my dad made me a tape of songs (mostly the Beatles, Foo Fighters, and The Police) that I would play all the time. We had a portable player that I would put the tape in and colorful headphones that I would wear and walk around with while played.
In first grade I remember being introduced to technology in a more explicit way and for the first time being jealous of my friends for having things that I was not allowed to have. Some had cell phones and laptops and I did not have either. I remember the thrill of playing games on my friend’s phone or playing video games at her house. These were not things that I was allowed to do at home and it became a thing of luxury to try to get to the next level of the Harry Potter game. I lived vicariously through her you could say. She always found it funny that I was so entertained by her games and toys. I also remember having my blue Walkman that I would play CDs on. I didn’t really have many of my own, but I do remember an S Club 7 CD being used a lot.
It was during this time that I first started to encounter social media sites more openly. I had gotten my first computer, a blue and grey PC, and had a Hotmail email account. I also got an AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and had shoot4goals07 as my username. I thought I was clever in the double meaning since I played soccer and also desired to have goals in life. I was a charmer. I remember the amount of thought I would put into my status updates and how meaningless the conversations I had on AIM were. The excitement was so intense when a friend would go from offline to online and you would either wait for them to message you (if it was that cute boy from your math class) or you would immediately message your friend with something akin to a cat stepping on the “y” button for too long: “HEYYYYYYYYY!!! :)”
In these years I transitioned from middle school to high school. I got my first phone in 8th grade because I started getting more involved in after school programs and needed ways to contact my parents to tell them if I was going to be late, or where I would meet them when practice/rehearsal ended. My first phone was a black flip phone, then 2 years later I got a blue flat phone (sort of looked like a blackberry). See photo progression below. On these first two phones I would only call and text. There was no Internet, emails, or picture mail. I was also not allowed to use Facebook or other social media sites like MySpace or Twitter during this time. I knew they existed, and I loved looking at my friends’ profiles when I would hang out with them, but I never had my own.
10th -12th grade
These last two years of high school probably were the most transitional in my technological upbringing. I was finally allowed to use Facebook the first day of my Sophomore year of high school. I recently went back and looked at my early posts and most of them were friends being really excited that I was “FINALLY ON FACEBOOK!” and I learned that I was really annoying. I apologize to the Facebook world on behalf of my younger self. I also transitioned to using a MacBook computer and dropped my CDs for ITunes and digital music. I left my Hotmail account for a Gmail account which was much easier and more centralized with sharing documents and using gchat to talk about projects. I had more papers and school work that required a computer at this time and it started to become a more integral part of my education. I also got an IPhone after high school ended. I remember I had to make a case to my parents about how it would be useful in college (it has.) and I had to pay for the monthly cost of the new additional data myself. I also got more interested in photography, both digital and film, during these years and thus saw that more creative connection to my computer too.
I think the most meaningful experiences with technology have come with my college years. Some of the highlights of my college career have come from the successes of the power of social media (especially Tumblr). I still use Facebook, but mostly just to see events that are happening, and to keep in touch with friends that have come and gone over the years. It is rare that I post a status update. I definitely spend a lot of time on the computer today. I listen to music mostly on Pandora or Spotify (free music sites with occasional ads) and am always online checking my email, reading articles, writing papers, scrolling through Facebook, or working on my photography. I definitely spend way more time on my computer than I would like. But is it all necessarily bad? I have been able to become a much more aware and informed individual through research and interactions in online spaces. Even the fact that we are doing this for a class is pretty cool. Still, I think there is growing skepticism today as to the effects of the Internet on how we socially interact with other people. Are we still making meaningful connections? Are sites like LinkedIn really useful? Has the internet-mediated way of relationships become the norm?
There was an article that I read this summer that made me want to take a break from it all: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/opinion/sunday/hit-the-reset-button-in-your-brain.html?_r=1.
I think personally I try to be conscious of how I use the Internet and also pair it with meaningful face-to-face connections. Some applications like Skype or Snapchat are a happy medium between these spaces. Technology can be extremely useful as a supplement, but the danger lies in when we over saturate ourselves with a screen and lose the beauty of real lived experiences. Perhaps the conflation of the two, as the screen becomes real life, is where the confusion and struggle to separate lie.
132511-sprint-pcs-vision-phone-katana-by-sanyo-open-angle.jpg. Digital image. N.p., 14 Sept. 2014. Web.
“Disney Animated Storybook: Winnie Pooh – Part 1.” YouTube. YouTube, 24 June 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
Levitin, Daniel J. “Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 09 Aug. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014
“Playthrough: Stellaluna-Part 1.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 Dec 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
Sprint-sanyo-scp-2700-qwerty-phone.jpg. Digital image. N.p., 14 Sept. 2014. Web.