Let's see... I work on computers all day long. It's my job to network about 64 remote locations together, link them back to the home office, link them to our data warehousing company and in general just make sure the packets get where they're supposed to go. I have a Handspring Visor Prism for a PDA, which lets me jot notes to myself, keep track of birthdays, organize addresses and phone numbers and a lot more. I have two cell phones. Yes, two. One that is issued to me by work, and one that I keep for personal use and emergencies. My apartment is filled with electronics of all sizes and shapes. I have a handful of older Sun Microsystems machines, most notably the SPARCStation 5, which is a great all-purpose machine for a beginner who is just getting into the world of UNIX. I've got a smattering of PCs running Linux, OpenBSD and Windows (98SE and NT 4.0 Workstation). I've got a Netopia router, which is what connects me to the Internet via a MegaPath DSL line so that I can have my all-important connection to the net. Okay, I'm saying that last part only a little tongue-in-cheek. To do my job from home I need a reliable, fast connection to the Internet, so it's necessary IN PART for my job. But primarily it's just a geek toy for me.
Anyways... other notables include a VCR, a CD burner, a scanner and a PlayStation 2 which is primarily doing duty as a DVD player for me... talk about a waste of resources! I should be playing MechWarrior 2 and blowing stuff up to relieve stress after a bad work day instead of making it play The Breakfast Club over and over.
I've got keyboards and mice and network cables running everywhere in this place. It's a small miracle I don't trip and kill myself when I get up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or stumble out of the shower and get electrocuted on a bare wire. I have so much geek stuff in this place I have had to stack it in the corners, under tables, behind shelves and beneath the couch. It's amazing. My life is completely ruled by silicon, copper, fiber optic cable and the all-mighty "Cool!" factor.
Am I really better off for having all this technology surrounding me, clipped on my belt, beeping and whirring and using electricity twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? I like to think so. Sometimes I worry a little about it, but so much of it has become necessary for me to get through my life I've decided there's not much I can do about it. My PDA is absolutely essential -- it's what keeps me organized at my job, tells me what I need to buy for groceries, things like that. My cell phone is about the only absolutely reliable method anybody has to get ahold of me (Unless it's on the charger in the kitchen and I'm asleep in my bedroom -- I'll never hear it then). The Caller ID on my phone lets me filter out pesky telemarketers, but I hate answering it anyways. I just don't like it, for some reason. E-mail lets me communicate with friends who are thousands of miles away and keep up to date with my father. The web lets me check the weather forcast for the next day when *I* want to know what the weather will be, rather than wait for the forecast on TV.
I think that's what this is all about. Yes, I'm almost certain it is: The 'I' factor. It's about convenience for me. Am I self-centered? Perhaps. I know I can be arrogant from time to time. Or all the time, I suppose. But I have these things mostly because I want them, they make my life easier, they let me be a better employee and a good little American consumer. Okay, so that last part isn't such a great thing, but all told it's here to keep me entertained and let me accomplish my goals with more ease.
Sure, it fails sometimes. Windows crashes and gives me the dreaded "Fuck You, Dude" (A.K.A. the "Blue Screen of Death"). My connection to the Internet flaps, sometimes. My cell phone batteries go dead. My cell phone delivers those lovely little pages from our helpdesk that say "Okay, on-call boy, get in to the office and fix the completely crashed network." But those are some of the tradeoffs that I have to make to enjoy the relative luxury that I live in, and to have things go more smoothly. You do have to admit, technology has helped this society (and hindered it as well, but primarily helped it, I think) become something more than we ever imagined fifty years ago.
Tomorrow I go with Tallears and Jen up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We're going to Summerfest so that we may drink beer (or whatever suits our fancy), eat fried food on a stick, and listen to really, really good music. I hope the weather up there will be good .. so far it sounds like it will be, anyways. My only gripe is that I don't know what car to take up there: the pickup or Twan's Mustang while he's away. I'm not sure how much I trust either one, given the string of automobile troubles that we've had as of late...