untethered

Some people have this perception of me as this ultra-connected geek who always has the latest toys, tricks, and is up-to-date with all of the latest goings-on in the ever-changing world of technology.

The truth is, I’m not.

“But Paul,” you might say, “you always have the latest gizmo, the newest gadget, and you’re always finding new ways to use it.”

That may be so, but let me tell you a little about what technology is, how I see it, and what I believe technology should really do…

There are people who get gadgets, doohickeys, and thingamajigs because they’re new and shiny, because they are something to ogle and and feel proud of owning. There are other people who acquire these aforementioned devices because they’re interesting or intriguing. Others shun these devices on principle, because they just don’t see a point, or think that “the old way” is just fine. Still others don’t see themselves using it, or can’t find a way to fit that technology into their daily lives. I stand somewhere at the intersection of all of those.

See, technology, to me, should be invisible. Human evolution has never been measured in how much we stayed the same, how much we stagnated. We have always defined ourselves by “progress,” and this progress, this applied knowledge, is all what I would consider “technology.” take your toaster, for instance. It hasn’t changed much since its inception. Bread goes in, burned bread comes out, and (for some strange reason) it tastes better. You can modify the toaster in so many ways, but the end result is the same: burned bread. Is there a better way to burn the bread? Maybe. Does it matter? Most likely not.

But what if there was a better way? Would you use it? What if there was a toaster that made toast “better?” Would you embrace this better way, or would you simply say, “No, the old way is fine,” despite evidence to the contrary?

That’s the crux of it, the main way I see the many advancements that the world is making constantly. I look for the “better way” every single day. Is there a better way for me to do X task, or is there a way I can streamline Y? Is there a device or service out there that I can use to make the things I do every day easier? That’s my goal.

It’s also easy to get caught up in the trap of constantly looking for new things, but that trap is a non-issue for me, simply due to the way I’ve positioned myself in the news curve. Most people find themselves falling behind (and, despite the things that I know about and am capable of, I still fall behind in many things), but since I’m usually at the forefront of that curve, looking at what’s on the horizon, I can make assessments of the viability of devices or services far before they become mainstream. That’s why I always look like I’m “ahead.”

It’s a trick, really.

In reality, I’m still playing the same game everyone else is, but I’m doing it with things that may not exist yet. I use what is available to me right now, and till the soil for what is just around the bend.

The only reason, the one and only single solitary reason I do that, is so that I can be more human, more honest in my living, more attentive to the world around me. I want my tech to be so advanced and integrated that I no longer need to adjust my life to fit the use of these silly devices and services.

Over the summer, I was talking to a friend in a foreign country, sending pictures I was snapping with my camera of a sunset I was watching. We shared that moment, and it was all because of the incessant march of progress.

Whether or not you see technology as useful or useless, worthwhile or worthless, I wouldn’t give that moment up. I wasn’t thinking about the wires, the screens, the processor speed. I was just sharing a sunset with someone very far away.

We live in the future, indeed.

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