My Position on Technology

Dear readers,

Yesterday I posted a blog when I described some of my personal opinions regarding certain technologies. One reader got his knickers in a twist and sent me a rant about it. On re-reading what I posted, I realized that it had an uncharacteristically snarky tone, so I decided to delete it and start again.

Following are my personal opinions on technology available today. You may be surprised…

…to know that I really do embrace advanced technology that makes all of our lives easier and extends our human capabilities.

I see that in some of the wounded warriors for whom I have led renovation projects in their homes. They have some of the most technologically-advanced prosthetic devices that enable them to have mobility only envisioned a few years ago in science fiction movies.

I see it in my own home. I recently replaced 20-year old solar panels with new ones that are 10x as efficient, 6x as productive in output of electricity, 75% smaller (panel footprint), and 3.5x less expensive than my old panels. Incorporated with a technologically-advanced roofing materials that reflect sunlight even better (into the panels and not radiate heat into my house), along with advanced air handling management with a 98.5%-efficient HVAC system, our house now is considered a net-zero energy building.

In about 2.5 years, with the savings generated from not having to buy power from the power company (and selling overproduction back), I will have recovered my acquisition and installation costs. While I still will need to pay for maintenance (2x annual cleaning and power system maintenance), those costs will be less than the revenue I will be generating… all thanks to advanced technology.

I also see how more modern technology has been applied in a 2015 vehicle that we bought. It incorporates technology comfortably, and offers features that I like and use, such as GPS and satellite radio.

The new vehicle allows me to disable connection with the internet and a cell phone, but that’s my choice. I could enable those features if I wanted to, but it is my choice not to introduce technology that is distracting while driving. Having witnessed a close friend get killed by someone talking on a hand-held cell phone, I have made the decision never to enable distracted driving for myself. While I hope others will make that choice too, I can only hope… and support enforcement of legislation that penalizes distracted driving.

Finally, I have made a choice not to have a smartphone. I really DO appreciate the power and capabilities of such devices that are pretty much like having a fully functional computer in the palm of my hand.

I have had a few smartphones for various work-related, short-term reasons and am familiar with how they work and function. I have struggled with using them, but that’s just me — the small keyboard is hard for me see and use without making errors. The old-fashioned schooling I had in writing complete sentences with proper grammar and spelling also conflicts with that, especially with the abbreviations used in texting.

Besides my personal discomfort and disabilities with using a smartphone — that I fully acknowledge that I could overcome if I wanted to (and wear reading glasses so I can see the screen better) — what bothers me most about those devices are the fees imposed by very rich companies to maintain cellular and data services. It just galls me to my core that these companies charge such high fees and make their top executives richer beyond belief off the backs of the working class who have no choice but to pay those fees if they want to have the device.

Then local, state, and federal governments impose lots of taxes on top of those fees, which exacerbates the consumer cost. I have heard and read stories about people struggling to pay their bills, keep a roof over their heads and feed their family — while still insisting that they must have a smartphone “to live.” To me, IN MY OPINION, something is wrong with that picture.

So it is that reason — the charges that enrichen the already-rich — that my Spouse and I have made the choice not to have a smartphone. Not that we are anti-technology, but that we are anti-enrichening-the-already-rich.

I also am concerned about emerging “smart home” technologies, such as being able to unlock doors and turn on/off alarm systems remotely, use remote video cameras to see inside or outside your home, control a thermostat by entering or leaving a room, or having a conversation and a technology speaker system listens and responds (and records conversations storing them in the cloud.) These concerns are among the reasons why I have chosen not to embrace those technologies for now. When security and privacy features are improved, I may reconsider.

People make choices every day. While we choose not to have a smartphone for various reasons, it doesn’t mean that we do not use and enjoy the world’s most incredible advanced technology, which is the internet. I wouldn’t have this blog or my website without it. My entire “work world” would be totally different. I know what that’s like, because I entered the working world before the internet (email, web, etc.) was available to the public.

I do not want to return to that level of the stone ages where I clacked-away on an IBM correcting Selectric typewriter using carbon paper for copies. I get it, I really do.

Life is short: embrace the technology that you choose to use (and can afford.)