Technology over the years has both inspired, and in some ways, highlighted some of my greatest insecurities in reading and writing. However, it’s become a convenient medium for transforming my thoughts and emotions into digital visuals and sharing it with others. Thus there was a bit of dissonance in my feelings towards technology. Regardless, over the years, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for how technology has enhanced the way I create, communicate, and effectively advance my passions to the next level.
It’s interesting– I feel like I was born in some sort of buffer period right before technology became so infused and almost unavoidable in our daily lives. I question whether I was among of the last generation to be raised with a mindset not entirely dependent on technology, or at least initially, during childhood– unlike this new generation of iPad kids. I believe Ashwin would agree with this sentiment. He states in his narrative “neither I nor any of my peers fit this description at all, and technology has shaped me personally in the opposite way.” And I couldn’t agree more.
When I was younger, a typical day would begin with springing out of bed and admiring the sky from my window. I would eat a meal prepared by my mother and then find a sunny spot in the house to draw in my notebook or write a new chapter in my series about a talking hand named Lily until I was sent to bed. I don’t think I had the capacity to realize it at the time, but art was a way of expressing and connecting with a part of myself that wasn’t easy to explain. And of course, I was more than content being creative in the absence of technology. Probably because I didn’t even know it existed, or rather I didn’t know what its purpose was or even how cool it could be.
But when I did, it brought nothing positive vibes. Especially the TV and our dreamcast console where I learned to play Pac-man and Sonic. To put it simply, at this point in life, technology to me, or rather more specifically computers, were just a toy that had unexpectedly opened up unfamiliar world to translate my imaginations into a new medium, or to simply just have fun.
In the basement of my childhood home, there was a big white block stationed on top of a desk. This big block was the one of the first models of the Macintosh computer. Eventually, curiosity got the best of me and I illegally decided to push some buttons to see what it could do. My older brother, who to me was an absolute intellectual tech boy, caught me and actually showed me how to use it. It made so many sounds, and the screen was full of so many pretty colors. The first cool thing he showed me (besides Minesweeper and the MS Paint) was this typing application called Microsoft Word. “You should write your weird puppet stories on this” he said. Being freshly 6 years old, there was so there was only so much I could do. My stories were barely a few sentences long that, looking back, probably made no sense at all. I think I preferred showing plot progression through images rather than words at the time. Regardless, I remember spending hours on Word and MS paint trying to crafting the *perfect* story.
Soon enough, I met the suave paper clip creature with the eyebrows that always seemed to have something to say. He was surprisingly helpful, but also annoying. His name was Clippy. He’s kind of a meme to me now, but looking back, I kind of miss the guy. Or maybe part of me just missess the simplicity of technology from my youth.
Unfortunately, Clippy passed away just as quickly as my love for writing. As I progressed through education, technology became a major assessment tool for measuring our intelligence for future class placement. Though we were occasionally permitted to explore the web, play games on Cool Math, or doodle on Kid pix, the school’s primary use of technology was something I began to associate with stress, confusion, and embarrassment (which was only amplified by the school’s competitive nature). We would take these reading/writing exams that would progress based on your speed and accuracy. Because I was not only slow, but inaccurate under pressure, I would always be the last to finish with an embarrassingly low score displayed in 0∫420(3.141592e99 x94e )2 point font for the entire class snickering and pointing behind me to see.
Maybe I should give up on writing..
Although it was something I personally enjoyed, my insecurities got the best of me. Reading and writing became something I was only comfortable practicing in solitude where I could take my time and not have to feel so anxious about making mistakes. From this point through the most of my education, I put my love for reading, writing, and creating to the side for the most part. Because technology, or more specifically computers, to me meant school and stress. Thus, I didn’t have much of any desire to seek out its use on the little free time for happiness I had. Staring at the screen for so many hours trying write an essay I “probably wouldn’t finish anyway” because I’m “too slow” and thus “not smart enough,” actually encouraged chronic migraines that I lugged with me along with this negative mindset for much of my youth.
Reading through my writing years later, I realized they were pretty solid for a 6 year old, and I shouldn’t have let my fears and frustrations throughout elementary and middle school be a hinderance to something I truly enjoyed. It crazy to think that all of these negative associations along with migraines from excessive screen time made me dislike computers so much. I was so focused on the past, the stress, and the thought life was just better without it, that I neglected, or rather refused the opportunity to let myself actually have fun with technology before ever giving it a chance.
While I’ve yet to return to *personal* reading and writing, I’ve revisited my other childhood passions through digital drawing and pursued other creative outlets through technology such as photography, filming, and editing, composing music with Garageband, and design. Technology has opened so many new opportunities for creativity and has become a very efficient way for creators to express themselves. Not only that, with social media and other collaborative sites, we are able to share creations with large audiences and view the works of others from across the world. These are things that would be nearly impossible in the absence of technology. Personally, I believe technology was is catalyst for my artistic potential. And so it’s interesting to reflect on how much technology has influenced the way I create and how my appreciation for its functionality has fluctuated over the past 20 years.
As I transitioned from pen on paper and eyes on the sky to fingertips on keys and eyes on the screen, it’s evident I felt a dichotomy in my emotions towards technology. Looking back, Clippy was one of the first electronic assistants I remember interacting with. It’s amazing how much these assistants and technology as a whole has evolved. With these advancements, Aswhin agrees that technology has “permeated every aspect of our lives” and has become an almost inevitable part of our routine. From Clippy helping us write letters to Siri telling us the weather and sending text messages for us like mentioned in Stella’s narrative, technology has become increasingly useful, prevalent, and convenient. Whether it may fault as a distraction or become something we wish wasn’t so fundamentally engrained in our lives, I must accept that there is no going back to how things “used to be.” The era of Clippy is gone, and I must move on. Bakai speaks on this in his narrative. He states, “I hear the words “technology is used to” a lot these days, but I think we should say “people use technology to.” You know what I mean? The accent is on us, the people.” I think this is a really important statement to marinate in. Technology isn’t going anywhere, and it will only become more and more prevalent in the future. Therefore, it should be viewed as a “tool,” Bakai metaphorizes, that is ultimately up to us to manage how to use and appreciate for ourselves and our own happiness as we move into the future.