Communiqué

ADDICTED TO ELECTRONICS

I don’t mean just me, of course.  I also mean you and just about every other affluent and quasi-affluent person in the world.  We are all addicted to our electronic gear.  If you are not convinced, take a look at your waking life from morning until night and tell me that you actually have periods during the day when you are not using some electronic product.  There are probably some minutes during the day when you are doing personal stuff but otherwise, you are tied to your electronic gear.  This is almost frightening in some ways as you have to wonder how we actually lived without our computers, cell phones, TV sets and other stuff.  It’s like electricity or running water in that we only seem to really appreciate when we are cut off from them.

Your daily routine is probably like mine.  I get up to a clock radio alarm and make coffee in a coffee maker with an embedded controller timer/clock.  Then after eating a bite, I read two newspapers.  Yes, I realize that dates me but I do actually like the greater depth of print newspapers better than the shallower Internet, radio or TV news. Then I log on and check my email for a while (3 accounts).  Next I get to work writing in Word and doing Google/Yahoo/Bing searches when needed.  Later I go out in my electronics laden car open it with wireless remote keyless entry.  Then drive and listen to the radio including satellite and keep in touch with my cell phone through the Bluetooth hands free feature.  The garage door is wireless, of course. Think of all the electronics in the car.  Whoah.  Then at night I watch some TV I “TiVo’ed” earlier, listen to some music, talk on the cordless phone or access email or some websites again.  And I adjust the electronic thermostat.  As a ham, I sometimes even get on the air and communicate with other amateur radio people.  Or put up a new antenna.

Other people have even greater connections to electronics if they operate machines at work, robots, machine tools, copiers, two-way radios or some electronic appliance.  I regularly see people in airports, restaurants, and coffee shops working a laptop while talking on their mobile.  Multitasking is standard procedure today.

Some time back, someone asked me to count the number of motors we use. We have electric motors all over the place, at home, work, and car.  Think about that.  Maybe we are also addicted to motors and don’t know it. 

So what am I saying here?  Is this a good thing?  Yes, it is especially for those of us who work in the electronics industry.  But are we so far gone that we cannot live or think without electronics?  Are we really dumber as a result?  Or smarter?  (Did you read Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains?)  Or maybe we have become overly dependent?  To find out, put yourself on an electronics “fast” for a day and see what it is like.  Brutal.  Like there probably ought to be a rehab for that.  Totally.

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