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What is technology, where did it come from, and what role does it play in our daily lives? According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, and I quote, technology is “the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area or a manner of accomplishing a task using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.” “Technology started about 3.3 million years before the beginning of our species”, according to Britannica. Technology is a word that has grown to mean many things, including but not limited to technology, tools, and engineering.

The first official piece of technology that I ever owned was Speak and Spell. Speak, and Spell was an ingenious device that allowed me to play games to enhance my proficiency at spelling correctly. Speak and Spell made its first appearance at the consumer electronics show in 1978 by Texas Instruments, and within a short period, it became a household name. In its first version, Speak, and Spell was a red, yellow, and black screen with a green liquid crystal display and blue with all raised circle buttons and then upgraded to a touch pad. 

The mission of this toy was to teach kids seven and older how to spell and pronounce words. Speak and Spell had an off, go, replay, repeat, clue, word, code, letter, say it, on the exclamation point, module select, erase, and an enter button which were in red, and then twenty-three more keys for each letter of our alphabet. From the moment you turn it on, Speak and Spell greats with a series of beeps that means hello, and then it asks you for the spelling level you want to set. Next, you press the go button, and it says spell followed by some word; if the word is confusing, it will give you an example, so you know which one to spell. Speak and Spell will give you two chances to spell the word correctly, then it will say, “that is incorrect; the correct spelling of saying the word is, and it spells it letter by letter. Next, it gives you another word to spell and keeps score. 

Speak Spell is a technology device that motivated me to spell correctly and intrigued me to add new words to my vocabulary often. The technology is portable, fun to use, gives constructive feedback, and keeps score, so you know how well you are doing. Speak and Spell even had other games like word find when you wanted to take a break from spelling. Later, other pieces of technology entered my life, from digital watches, tape players, sonywalkmans, mp3 players, computers, laptops, wireless microphones, video cameras, iPhones, iPads, and more, to name a few.

Once again, technology is either a process, invention, or system that utilizes past and present knowledge to make life more productive and enjoyable. Thus, technology is a tool, and it is not whether technology is good or bad but how we choose to use it that makes this so. When you use technology, does it make your life more efficient and enjoyable or create more stress? If it improves your life, keep using it, but if it makes you feel trapped, change your technology or how you use it.

An iPhone or a computer has done what for your life since you owned it? Take cell phones before even the world of smart devices; they solved one big challenge but caused another for many people. Many of you saw the commercials from Nynex where they said there is a businessman and his world is about to stop because he is entering his car. Why? Because he will have no access to a phone, many deals on his plate fall through because he can’t communicate in time, and the competitor gets the sale. Don’t let this happen to you with Nynex; you enter your car relaxed and can take calls to communicate with your clients when they want you.

Yes, Nynex did have a great tool, the cell phone, which enabled a businessman to make/receive calls anytime he entered his car or traveled anywhere. However, more people are now becoming as reliant on their phones as they do on the air they breathe. This technology is a time saver, but no person should expect to be glued to their phone and then chastised if the client can’t get them in real-time when they want them.

Other technology like Virtual Reality Headsets (VR) often give people an outlet to explore. Still, when it becomes a necessity or obsession to use, the technology takes away their free choice. Do you ever take time to get unplugged from your technology and take a walk? Enjoy nature, meditate, stroll, and bask in how grateful you are for all you have. People that can’t unplug themselves from technology once in a while will lose touch with what’s most important in our world, people and great relationships. 

If I asked you to think about all the technology you use every day and whether it makes your life full of more bliss or stress, which would you answer? Many would tell me it makes my life easier since they spent a nice chunk of change on it while secretly knowing that they are someone who has lost their way of living and being human. Now pretend for one minute that tomorrow there is a power outage and no fuel for your generator. What would you do? Do you light candles, play board games, read a book, play charades, or do other activities that unite your friends and family? People from all walks of life often have difficulty knowing how to be with even a temporary power interruption. Thus, plan a day at least once a month where you purposely don’t use power or technology for a few hours and see if that doesn’t bring you closer to those you love.

Thus, technology has brought numerous time-saving breakthroughs and conveniences for which we all should be grateful to have. However, the most significant challenge with people buried in their technology is that they forget or never learn how to develop social skills, which are vital to living in our world. When you go to dinner, there should never be a TV on, or people with their heads buried in their diverse technology that now being part of the dinner table becomes a distraction to them. Choose to explore people, exchange stories, learn from them, and celebrate your greatest gift by sharing each other’s life experiences.