My Blog

May 3, 2018

The Addictions of Technology

A number of years ago, when we first arrived in the United States, wide-eyed and amazed at the wealthy new world around us, a friend bought us our first television. Thank you, Mario Gottfried. Or not.

We could lie on the couch or lounge in the arm chairs and watch hours of TV at a time. Discipline disappeared. Housework was done with one eye on the sitcoms. Meals were eaten on TV trays. A younger brother or sister could be persuaded to get up and change the channel. We claimed we could actually do homework while watching TV. My mother was right. You really can’t, you know.

On one occasion, my then-boyfriend, Barry, called while I was splayed out on the couch, eyes and mind riveted on the TV. My sister answered the phone in the entry hall. She’s younger, she had to. I’m sure she came in and told me the call was for me. I never heard her.

Half an hour later, Barry, who knew our addiction, had given up and driven over. He knocked and came in the front door, knowing better than to wait for a response. He prodded me to consciousness. “Someone’s on the phone for you,” he said. “HUH? What?” Of course, there was no one on the beeping line.

Now, it is not just the television. Add in computers, cell phones, I-pads, and laptops. It’s no wonder Flatbottom doesn’t get out of his chair anymore. With a laptop close at hand and the television remote ready to record any and every show all day long and into the night, there is no need to ever move again. And, should he need to eat, televisions are positioned in every room in the house, including the kitchen. And now-a-days, if he’s watching sports in the living room or kitchen, there is always a TV for me in the bedroom.

I know one friend who insisted on having a large couch in front of the TV so she could snuggle with her husband. He couldn’t barricade himself into an armchair and vaguely respond to her questions or comments. I should have followed her example. Flatbottom rarely hears anything I say, even during commercials.

And in addition to the thousand or so channels (which really and truly don’t have that much of interest) there is now Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and half a dozen other programs to watch. Years ago, Flatbottom laboriously taped hundreds, no, thousands, of hours of television shows onto Video cassettes. His plan had been to move to the country, retire and watch all his old favorites.

He’s now retired, and we live out in the country. Those cassettes fill half a dozen floor-to-ceiling book shelves in the back bedroom. But, there is no need for them. All his old favorites are offered on television. I told him I will build his mausoleum out of them when he atrophies in his chair. Sort of like the Taj Mahal, only bigger.

The addiction to television is bad, but cell phones are ten times worse. They are portable. The stories are legion of whole families hunched over their “devices” during family dinners. At restaurants or outings, it is so common to see friends ignoring each other for the sake of someone on the other end of the line or, what would it be? The other end of the air waves? My sister has declared her house a “no-technology-zone” for her three grand-children. They can scarcely believe it.

And heaven forfend a teacher try to keep students from using cell phones during class. I insisted. I’m old-fashioned. I bought a plastic hanging shoe bag at Walmart, and two door hooks. When students entered class, they placed their cell phones in the pouches. There was always the student who HAD to keep his or her cell phone close at hand because his nine-year old Chihuahua might have a seizure. (God’s truth! I happened Tuesday.)

Facebook was bad enough. I had a hard time keeping up with that. Now I have to check my accounts and messages on Whatsap, Twitter, Instagram, Alignable, Linked In, and Lord alone knows what new messaging forms there are out there. I apologize to friends who want to connect on those various formats. There aren’t enough hours in the day. And besides, I have to watch YouTube.

The choices there are as addictive as the television. YouTube is wonderful for dialing up information on how-to everything. You can change an oil filter on a car or fix a faucet. But you can also become addicted to every late-night comedian or day-time news channel. All provided in short convenient bursts. I never have to miss “Breaking News” again. Only there is always Breaking News. And I don’t have to stay up to watch the Late, Late Show.

Yesterday, as the YouTube videos scrolled on Auto Play, one after the other, I sat, as Flatbottomed as Flatbottom. It didn’t seem so bad. Only 3 minutes here or ten minutes there. I’ll only watch for a few minutes. It’s important to know the national breaking news and who would want to miss Colbert or Trevor Noah? Laughter is important, isn’t it? Surely, I won’t be late for my meeting. Oh, you mean I missed going to Curves? Wait, you really mean it’s NOON already? I forgot to eat?

Well, just one more.

General , ,
About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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