I Sing the Life Electric

Unlike most of my co-workers, I was an adult in the 80’s and remember more than simply what my favorite cartoon was. The 80’s, at least in the US of A, was all about acquisition, big business, big real estate, and big hair. The mantra was, for many, “greed is good.” Underlying all this was the assurance that “you can have it all.” Indeed for the sake of the economy, you needed to have it all. Some advertising even went so far as to convince us that we deserved it; it was our right as human beings and our duty as Americans. Life, liberty and the pursuit of stuff was the new addendum to the Bill of Rights. And on the wave of this attitude, came the technological revolution: gadgets that could do damn near anything, and the certainty that you – yes, YOU — would look like a complete flunky if you didn’t own the latest model of each.

I’m no luddite. No really. In my closet is an Apple IIe, a mouseless generic DOS-based CPU, a box of whoppin’ big floppy disks (just in case I ever run out of styrofoam plates, I guess), two very dead high-end laptops (no, I don’t want to discuss it) and a couple of cell phones about the size of single-slice toasters. And that’s just the stuff I kept. My daily technological necessities are a Treo, two desktops (three, if you count my office computer), a digital notepad, an mp3 player (so it’s not an i-pod – deal with it), a digital video player, several flash drives, and a Kindle. Those are my workhorses. I’m not even mentioning the four televisions, the four DVDs, the DVD recorders, the Nintendo DS, or the Wii…. Well, I did, but never mind.

Back to the work horses. I might be able to get through the day without the notepad, the desktops, the video player, the flash drives (ouch!) and the mp3 player, but you’ll have a fight on your hands to get hold of my Treo or my Kindle. If the choice is my Kindle or my life, I’ll give up the Kindle with a scream. Make a similar demand for the Treo and I’d have to think about it a minute. Or two.

Sad isn’t it?

And no, I don’t work for Palm or Amazon, such is my bad luck.

But back on topic. I’ve decided the 80’s were wrong. Yeah, I still like the music — well, some of it anyway. I never had the big hair (a treasonable thing for a native Texan to admit), and the acquisition of money was never my forte (I’ve blown it all on technological advancement — see above). The truth of the matter is, you CAN’T have it all. Shocking, isn’t it? But here are three proofs in support of my theorem:

1. You can’t afford it. (Well, maybe YOU can, but I’m not talking to you. So there.)
2. You will eventually run out of room to put it. (If YOU can find the room, see #1.)
3. You will definitely run out of time to actually enjoy it.

We can quibble about 1 and 2, but I stand confidently on point #3. No matter how much money you have, no matter how large your residence (or your ease of access to the local Public Storage), no one — and I mean NO one — has more than 24 hours in a day. Not on this planet, at any rate. And frankly, how much can you squeeze into that kind of time slot? Family, friends, possibly a job, a little relaxation and/or entertainment, a bit of creative effort to keep your sanity…

You see my point.

I hope.

Sure, all those technological marvels can be squeezed into each day and still allow time for sleep. Lemme see: I listen to audio books (Treo, mp3, or Kindle) during my commute and sometimes at lunch; while working, I listen to music or the radio (Treo or mp3) or keep an eye on the news (Treo). During work, I make various notes regarding my “real” life interests (flash drive or Treo) and later transfer them to one or the other of my home PCs. For various writing projects where shorthand is a plus, I use the digital notepad. In the evening, I’ll read (Kindle or Treo, or ::gasp:: an actual book) or (rarely) watch a movie or TV episode (digital video player). Meanwhile, email, calendars, memos, telephone calls, references, etc, are all the domain of the Treo. And, yes, I have awakened to find it in bed beside me. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much space, never steals the cover and rarely snores. My dog should be so well behaved.

I say all this to make this admission. It’s all just too much. With all this influx of instant information, my brain is shutting down. Mid-sentence, I’ll lose the word I’m looking for. I’m forgetting names. Yesterday, I blanked on my own telephone number. I honestly cannot tell you what I had for breakfast this morning. It’s dawned on me that in my efforts to remain organized, in-touch and relevant, I may have inadvertently surrendered quality of life for quantity of stuff – and the quantity of (honestly) useless information all that stuff delivers.

I’m interested in life. Really, I am. And, as a Gemini, I dabble in a bit of everything. (At least I’ve been told that my sun sign is the reason. Maybe I’m just nosey. ::shrug::) The internet is a godsend to me: instant information (if not instant wisdom) combined with instant get-ification (if not inner peace) is the ultimate for this old 80’s lady. Instant pudding takes too damn long; just toss me a pudding cup. I like instant gratification.

Apparently, though, it doesn’t like me.

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” — Sir Winston Churchill

Photo credit: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: