Discussions

Sometimes change isn't an advantage.

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5 Votes
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Sometimes change isn't an advantage.

Tigger_Two
I really do hate to be a whiner...

As I have gotten older and decrepitude has gotten significantly more pervasive, I find that I have less and less ability to deal with changes that are being made with- what appears to be- less and less regard for those who use a product.

I try to embrace change. I fail miserably when that change comes wrapped in a sense that it is inflicted, rather than granted, on we who must use the new and improved... rather than the old and antiquated that worked so much better.

I live with an iPhone and an iPad. I also live with a MacBook Pro and an iMac. This disregards the XP net book and 17" Windows laptop that also share my space. Since I come from a time that believes that redundancy is good, I don't question this. However, I begin to wonder what benefit- if any- is brought to the table.

I don't recall the last time I answered my cell phone. I recall the last time I used it- the first week of December, when poor weather and driving conditions combined with an insane GPS (can you get therapy for a GPS?) required me to phone a friend for more reliable directions than Google Maps (and my insane GPS) could provide. I try to remember to keep the darned thing charged.

I actually use my iPad. I was looking for a specific book at Barnes and couldn't find it where I assumed it would be... so I pulled out my iPad to find the section THEY thought was appropriate. Found what I was looking for, too.

Somehow, I don't want to believe that this is what they designed this tool for...

We've become a nation of inanity and absurdity. Worse, we accept and embrace this. Our social reality is encompassed by Facebook and Twitter, we think in concepts that can be embraced in 160 characters or less, and our "networks" are comprised of people we have never met- and never want to.

I find myself avoiding my computer and refusing to answer my phone. I don't recall the last time someone emailed me because they wanted to talk to me- the email I get is more often notifications of things I don't care about and frequently from people I don't know. At some point, technology stopped serving me and began to assume I would serve IT.

What did I miss?

I understand the idea that one must grow with the times. In general, this doesn't bother me much. But to think that "Dance Moms", "Toddlers and Tiaras", "Dancing with the Stars", and "The Bachelor" are a part of what is considered to be "the social fabric" makes me ill. That a fundamentally flawed search is the best tool I have to find content on an otherwise beloved site irritates me to my soul. That people who think like me are being driven deeper into hiding spaces tells me that perhaps the promised change is nothing more than an empty promise that is not kept.

I long for simplicity. I long for a day when I can actually find content that is relevant for what I search for. I long for the days when thinking was a requirement and not optional.

I long for changes that provide an advantage to the user... and are not merely changes for the sake of some ill-conceived marketing notion of "what's best" for the consumer.
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    4 Votes
    CharlieSpencer

    For the past several years I've noticed a shift in the mindset of this country. We no longer have any tolerance for delay. This is reflected in many of our habits, but especially in our information and communication technology tools and how we use them. I don't know if this is due to the way we've chosen to use these tools, or the way we've chosen to let them use us. But the more we interact with them, the less tolerance we have for delay.

    We no longer plan ahead. Instead, we rely on tools to let us fill our needs on the fly. Unfortunately, many have lost the ability to plan even the simplest things. I can understand calling a spouse to ask if we need chicken when it's on sale. However, yesterday I was grocery shopping and frequently crossed paths with someone who appeared to be on the phone constantly. It sounded like she was asking about every individual item on the shelf.

    No one plans a trip anymore, they just hop in and fire up the GPS. They may not have the slightest notion of even what major roads to take, so they can't attempt navigation when their blind obedience to the device leads them astray. (Sorry, not picking on you, but we've both seen it.)

    Marketing tells us it's desirable to be in constant contact. Why? It wasn't a necessity even ten years ago. Do I really need to know right now who my football team chose in the draft, or the latest inanity to pass through a celebrity's lips? What's the impact if I don't get the vacation photos on my web site for a couple of days? Does every message sent to us merit an immediate response? We've lost the ability to prioritize; questions about where to go for lunch are treated with the same urgency as a notice that Mom had a heart attack.

    All this immediacy leads to a failure to consider long-term consequences. We live in the 'Now', with reduced consideration for our actions. It's not just those who fail to consider the career impacts of the ill-advised Tweet. Look at the federal government and its repeated failure to deal with long-term problems. Kicking the can down the road occurs regardless of party in control of legislative or executive branches. Not only are elected representatives willing to make the big decisions, voters are won't elect anyone who says he will. Short-term convenience regularly trumps long-term necessity.

    I could go on, and probably will, but it's not just you. Maybe it's the result of the 'self esteem' approaches to child rearing. Maybe it's the desire for new toys, and the feeling that if we spent the money then we must maximize the use of them. Maybe it's just that I'm older and less adaptable. Or less gullible. Or less materialistic. Or more discerning regarding what I need vs. what I want.

    C'mon over and we'll scream at kids on my lawn together.

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    Tigger_Two

    The "Culture of Now" describes what I was thinking perfectly. You nailed it when you say that we don't seem to be capable of planning in any meaningful way any longer. When my cats get in my face and demand my attention RIGHT NOW it's cute. When the entire society I live in does it... not so much.

    I have fought against immediate gratification all my life. ADHD minds tend to see the entire world in terms of "now" and "not now". Learning to wait, learning to do the due diligence, learning to consider choices from a variety of angles, isn't something that came easily to me. It took active effort on my part... but I finally learned, only to find myself in a world that no longer seems to place a value on it.

    I have become obsolete.

    *sigh*

    Scream at the kids on the lawn? Yep. I'll bring the lap blankets and whiskey if you provide the rocking chairs.

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    dogknees

    Partly it's that people don't stick to their plans any more. Used to be, once you set out to go somewhere, no one could contact you to suggest something else. Now, my friends decide, when half way there, to go and see someone else because they posted on Twtr.

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    Tigger_Two

    Living with ADHD means that I live with a brain that is easily distracted and speeding through life at 100 mph. A ton of energy going in ten directions at once and accomplishing little if anything at all. Staying focused on a task is something that does not come easily to me at all. It has required significant training and medication.

    Yet I was taught that I needed to learn this- needed to learn to pick a direction and go in it, to stay focused on the task at hand. I was taught that learning this was not optional, that it was an important life skill that I needed to have. So I learned, and learned also to put the structures in place that enabled me to be successful at it.

    Now the world I live in changes on a whim. Plans are made, yet seldom followed through. Accomplishing a task is seldom as important as talking about accomplishing the task... which baffles me no end.

    Perhaps my ADHD brain is simply an early implementation of a necessary skill set- the ability to look really busy and directed while accomplishing little or nothing.

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    3 Votes
    LocoLobo

    Cell phone, desktop, no GPS, no ipod or smartphone, not even a laptop. Joined facebook but hardly go there. Those shows you listed, "Dancing Bears", etc., don't even make sense to me.

    Your comment about IT serving us or the other way around reminded me of my Dad. He did almost all his auto repairs himself, to save money. Thing was he spent a significant amount of his free time (as a trucker he worked 60+ hrs/wk) fixing the cars. OTOH, by the time he was my age he was one of the best Mickey Mouse mechanics I ever saw.

    I think to each generation there's always something that changes for reasons that don't make sense.

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    Tigger_Two

    Your comment about your dad reminds me that one of the changes that surprises me is most people's inability to DO stuff.

    When I was a kid, it was expected that one would be able to sew- at least enough to replace a button or mend a seam. I was taught to cook and clean, but also to knit and crochet. I could catch a fish, clean that fish, and turn it into supper. These weren't considered to be "special skills", they were considered to be necessary to LIFE... as necessary as breathing.

    At one time, I had at least a 50/50 shot at fixing my car if I broke down. Today, the only thing I am able to reasonably do is put gas in it. The shade tree mechanic has become extinct as vehicles have become less mechanical and more computer.

    As far as television goes, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who is baffled by "reality" shows. I have hundreds of channels available at any time of the day or night... and watch a total of two programs with any regularity- Mythbusters and The Big Bang Theory. They can keep the rest.

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    LocoLobo

    Yeh. I know. But heaven forbid you just do stuff. You're supposed to call a professional to do it. I quit doing most of my auto repairs when I found a "simple" job, replacing the thermostat, took me 4 hours.

    It irks me to. Instead of teaching kids to become competent we teach them to call somebody. Of course that's just my perception. Of course you can still do most of your own work, but you have to spend hours researching sometimes to figure out how to do a 15 min job.

    BTW all those skills you were taught I was too, except sewing and knitting. That was my fault. My Mom tried but, "I'm not doing that!" Wish I had tho.

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    Tigger_Two

    The idea that no longer being self sufficient is good bugs the mess out of me. I understand that things change and all that, but the assumption that one shouldn't TRY- is foolish to try, even- bugs the mess out of me.

    Back in my support days, I encouraged end users to at least check the basics before yelling for help. To me, this seemed reasonable. Help Desk was going to ask them if they did these things, might as well do them BEFORE placing the call.

    I had a guy who had moved into the UNIX team from Help Desk. As I was heading for my desk one morning, he stopped me to tell me that he couldn't get to the network. I asked him if he had done the basics- reseat the cables at the plug points being step one. He assured me that he had.

    I reached around the back of the machine and picked up the network cable... not plugged in. He had the grace to look quite ashamed of himself.

    Not being able to do many things for myself is something I find VERY irritating. I own a tire gauge and know how to use it, but have to take the truck to Ford if the tire pressure light comes on. I am physically unable to check the pressure in the tires and physically unable to add air as needed.

    The same is both true, and not true of changing a tail light. I can physically do the work but am unable to figure out how to remove the housing in order to change the bulb. I never used to have that problem. The fix- replace a $0.69 bulb- cost me $60 to accomplish.

    *sigh*

    One of the most difficult things I have dealt with since hubby died is "call someone". When my washer decided that it was time to die, I spent an hour or two trying to troubleshoot the problem, and another hour or two trying to figure out WHO one calls about a broken washer. Hubby took care of that stuff.

    I can teach you the basics of sewing and knitting. I may have had a slight advantage- I am one of five daughters. Mom insisted that we be able to do the sewing and knitting stuff, Dad taught us to fish... and to clean the fish we caught.

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    cmiller5400

    This is the second time I'm posting this...

    Just the other day a friend and I were speaking about technology and its impact on us. It's quite frightful that when you go into a store and a teenaged kid types in the wrong amount into the register, and it gives them an absurd amount of change due, they just stare at the cash register like a deer in headlights. They have no concept of a simple task as making change.

    After working for 8-9 hours on computers at work, I go home and avoid my computer like the plague. People are often surprised that I'm not on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc... They constantly say, "well you are a geek so you must be on those sites." Ummm, No. Another client asked me if I had an iPhone. I said I have a simple 5 year old phone that I use for calling and the occasional text. That's it. I don't need access to the web or any other thing that it may offer. I have a GPS in my car that I love, but I still carry my trusty Rand McNally in the trunk. Call me cheap but I already pay $45 for internet at home and I'm not going to pay an additional $15 - $30 for access on my phone.

    Another thing my friend and I pondered was what would happen if the electrical grid went down due to a solar flare/storm and it was down for weeks, months or years. Could you survive? I think I could. Every summer I use to go to Maine with my Uncle before he passed away and we would spend 2 weeks without phones, power, and cell reception at his "Man Cave" (no bathrooms either. A port-a-potty in the garage or a tree were your choices ). Now that's roughing it. Nothing like sitting down to a campfire with good company and telling stories. I loved hearing my Uncle tell me about when he was in the Army during the Vietnam era and his travels across Europe.

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    Tigger_Two

    Hubby and I went camping every fall. He would go up and irritate the local grouse while I read (yes, a book with PAGES!) in the truck. About an hour before sundown we would pull into a camp area and put up the tent, make fire, grill a steak, and have a martini. There was generally an outhouse somewhere, but it was so darned COLD that a downwind tree was often the better choice.

    We'd wander back to civilization after a few days- him with greying stubble that reminded him yet again why he refused to grow a beard, and both of us in need of a shower and wearing blaze orange. We loved it.

    Up there, our phones didn't work and we didn't miss them. The computers stayed home and we didn't miss them either. The GPS wasn't optional- we had two. One lived in the truck, the other was a handheld that he insisted I carry on the theory that I would be able to find my way back to the truck should I get lost. Nice theory, but I never went further than the sound of his voice. I can get lost in my BATHROOM.

    I have the smallest plan for my iPhone that is reasonably available. The rationale for the phone was that it cut the number of devices I carry by one. With it, I no longer need a PDA. I find that I use it- or USED it quite a lot. The iPad is easier on my aging eyes as well as my aging back. Both tools are handy to have when the GPS decides to go bonkers. All the technology in the world can't keep me from getting lost on a regular basis and I don't have the option of staying close to hubby any more.

    Those chilly evenings by the campfire enjoying a martini and listening to the silence of the trees were some of the best in my life.

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    AV .

    After spending 25+ years running networks, I have to admit, I'm a computer junkie. I've developed a case of OCD because of the need to check things and poke around on the network at work, and at night I do things like pay the bills, shop, read TR, etc. I always have to have internet access. Thats how I run my life. Years ago, I used to get out the checkbook to pay my bills, but now I just go online and do it. Shopping is a dream. No longer do I have to bother going to the mall for most things. I think thats great.

    I draw the line when it comes to the cell phone. I don't answer it most times. I let it go to voicemail and call them back when I want to talk (unless its an emergency). The younger members in my family are all into texting. I really don't do it much. I just don't feel the need to be in touch with everyone all the time. They make fun of me sometimes because I don't text. I don't tweet either. What's the point of that? I have a Facebook page, but I rarely go on it. I just don't have time, unless I want to give up sleeping.

    I am just amazed at people and their phones. They can't put them down. Everyone does want everything NOW and if they can't get it, its a major problem. I work with attorneys and they now work 24/7 thanks to smart phones and terminal server access to the network. They're always connected. They have Bluetooth in the car and some even have Bluetooth headsets so they can talk on the phone while they're pouring a cup of coffee in the office kitchen. Its just sickness. I have a basic, dumb phone and I'm pretty happy with it. I can make phone calls and do a basic text if I want to. Still, I am going to trade it in for an iPhone, though I refuse to become one of those people that walk into walls looking at their phones.

    I think the technology companies have so permeated our culture, there is no looking back. The olden days that we remember are gone forever. The best advice I can give is to use technology in moderation so it doesn't take over your life.

    AV

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    Tigger_Two

    I agree completely with the premise that technology should be savored, not squandered. I have said for years that I will respond to my phone when and if I care to and not just because it rings. If I am upstairs, I don't know if it rings anyway- I leave it in my purse... downstairs.

    I don't think my plan includes text messages... much to my step-son's dismay. While not aggressively connected, he responds MUCH more quickly to a text than an email or call. The other side of that is that he has had texting capability for WAY longer than I have.

    Is this all generational? Could it be that I am stuck in a world of change primarily because of my age? I'm not that old- not yet 50.

    Still, I have seen my industry morph repeatedly since I entered it. The pace of change has been breath-taking and in fewer than 20 years. I've been out of technology for three years or so and find that I no longer bring a skill set to the table that a prospective employer wants or needs. I have become irrelevant and I don't even know when this happened.

    I'm not saying that change is inherently bad. I think that I am asking if change for the sake of change is good.

    Take TR- no, I'm not kvetching about TR, just using an example. When they changed the way TR works, they were trying to bring the look and feel of the site up to date. Is that bad? The result was that many community old-timers just stopped making the site an important part of their day. Is that bad? Were those who walked away simply not willing/able to change? Was the change too much, too soon? Was it a change that wasn't necessary in order to keep the doors open? Was it desperately needed in order to maintain business viability?

    What started this rant was not being able to use a website to do something I have done frequently and with little thought or effort. The website had changed- changed dramatically. It is virtually impossible to do anything functional on it at all. What is touted as an enhancement is, for me, a limitation to functionality. I began to wonder if I have become inflexible or if there is some mindset in operation that I don't understand.

    What gets me, though, is that my kid probably hardly notices the changes that stymied me.

    Have I truly become obsolete?

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    cmiller5400

    And I feel like things are getting out of hand.

    Change is good, but only when it enhances upon a function or adds a new function that enhances your "experience". Change for the sake of change is not productive. I relate it to BIOS updates, if there isn't something that is fixed in a new release that I am currently having an issue with, I don't update. It isn't worth the time if the update goes sour (which has happened and is a HUGE pain to deal with.)

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    Tigger_Two

    CMiller, you aren't that much older than my kid.

    *sigh*

    I agree with you- don't fix what isn't broken. Due diligence is a necessary step and any proposed change should be tested for viability prior to implementation. In virtually every change management team I have ever interacted with, there was a guy we were sure had been put on the team specifically to deny proposed changes.

    Lion OS has been out for my Mac for months. I haven't upgraded to it and have no plans to at this time. Snow Leopard has been stable and functional. The new interface brings nothing to my functionality table and could potentially break or disrupt things that I have, use and need. The change makes no sense.

    That said, I know that a great percentage of the user base upgrades reflexively. A pop up shows up and tells them to. Frankly, I blame IT for that to an extent- we TOLD users to do as they were told by the machine. It would appear that we successfully transmitted that message.

    Getting out of hand? Yep. I'll pack an extra blanket and you can join Palmie and I on the porch, yelling at the kids on the lawn.

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    CharlieSpencer

    It's not so much that we grew up with certain technologies, it's that we grew up WITHOUT certain ones.

    I got along fine for decades before cell phones and GPS became affordable to the general public, or before DARPA cut the Internet loose and you had a way to get television beside three networks and an antenna. As such, I grew up comfortably (by the standards of the time) without what much now take for granted. I never had them so I don't miss them.

    I've adopted the technologies I find useful to me (DVRs, MP3 players, a basic cell phone on a 'pay as you go' plan, satellite-delivered TV) and ignored or remained on the sidelines for those I don't perceive as wants or needs (game consoles, 'smart' phones, Internet-delivered streamed entertainment, social networks). That's not unique to my generation or technology; this has been ongoing since the Industrial Revolution or maybe the Renaissance. Prior to those, tools and methods didn't change as rapidly.

    Who knows, I may find a use for some of these geegaws in the next few years. I didn't get a cell phone until about nine months ago, when I found a model and payment plan cheap enough to suit me. Even now I only use it on long trips. I may find a tablet to be a viable option one day if the hardware and connectivity costs drop by about 70%. I may hook a computer to the TV to stream content, if there's every anything I want to watch that isn't available via my existing delivery methods.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    The hardest thing for most humans to do is nothing. All those people who have to be doing something never quite grasp the idea that just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do that thing. And too many humans have to be doing SOMETHING, even if it's make-work. (I have a sister-in-law who can't sit for more than a few seconds without thinking of something else that "needs" to be done and popping right back up to do it. Watching her wears me out!) Other people base their self-image on what they have or what they do rather than on who they are. People like these are the people buying the new gadget every time the "latest and greatest" hits the street.

    Another contributing factor is our increasing cultural selfishness ("alone in the world" syndrome). People just don't care about others as long they have what they want. (Maybe that's too far. Americans will dig deep to contribute to victims of disasters, so they do care. Let's try "don't think about others.") This attitude is epitomized by the texting driver, blithely oblivious to anything but the latest from one of his (or her) dozens of "friends."

    Finally, there's the sales pitch from the technology companies, trying to convince us that if we only have enough technology, we won't need anything else. But what is overlooked by the in-duh-vidual is that, while having technology may make you look smarter, it doesn't actually make you smarter. If the only poetry you could write with a pen and paper was inane free verse, a computer and MS Word will only help you create more inanity, faster. If you are the king of asinine one-liners, all you will post on Twitter and Facebook is—surprise! :0 —asinine one-liners.

    Throw these factors into society, shake well, and you get what we've got: change for the sake of change. Unfortunately, change for its own sake is now comparatively inexpensive, enabled by the technology humans have created over the past several decades.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not against change. I've been working with electronics and computers since I was in high school. The changes have been immense over the past 40 years:
    * discrete transistors are gone. They've been combined into integrated circuits.
    * My first transistor radio was three inches by six inches and almost two inches deep. All that circuitry now fits onto a one-micrometer square piece of silicon, with room to spare.
    * My cell phone has more memory and processing power than the first mainframe I worked on. That mainframe consumed most of the floor space in a 30 x 24 room; the phone fits into my pocket. One hard drive assembly alone consumed almost 20 square feet of floor space...and provided less than half the storage available on my phone.
    * Floppy disks, Zip drives, analog tape cassettes. All gone, replaced by optical media and thumbdrives.
    I have embraced these changes, not just because it's part of my job, but because they were an improvement over the previous technology.

    Other changes, not so much.

    Twitter? Remember all those throw-away one-liners? Now, they're part of the record; is that something to be proud of?
    Facebook? Sure, it's an easy way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. It also reminds you why you really don't care if you hear from some of those people except at Christmas, when you pull the letter from the card, stand the card on the mantel with the others, and throw away the letter...unread. And let's not forget those friend requests from people you couldn't stand back then, but who seem to think they deserve your attention now.
    Texting? One of the most pathetic things I've ever seen was a couple sitting on a park bench, both busy texting. As I watched them, I realized the text exchange that had them so enthralled was between the two of them! Rather than talking, they were texting. At the end of the "conversation", they even leaned over and kissed each other. Are you effing kidding me?

    I love technology. I embrace technology. It pays my bills and it's fun to play with. But I have yet to figure out why it is more important to hold a texting conversation on your phone than it is to talk to the person sitting next to you at the dinner table...on the park bench...in the bar...or on the patio. (I miss the patio. :-( )

    Yeah, I rambled...sue me. And I'm keeping my clamshell phone (that says Cingular) for as long as it works!

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    AnsuGisalas

    that maybe the texting couple were somehow shy about using their native Ameslan in public (because Ameslan can be "overheard" from quite a long way away ).
    All other possibilities are straight out of ****...

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    cmiller5400

    And I if I dug into the abyss of my closet, I'd probably find my old AT&T cell phone before they merged with Cingular

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    When you find the phone that says "Cellular One"...

    And, in case I wasn't clear enough, the clamshell I have is the active phone!

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    CharlieSpencer

    I caught part of a radio story this morning about a near-riot over the Chinese release of the iPhone 4S.

    I don't understand standing in line for something that isn't limited in quantity or shelf life. I can understand camping out for concert tickets or even ridiculously low priced special sales; I've done that a couple of times myself. But standing in line to fight over something just to be the first to have it, something that will continue to be available at the same price for months? Something that doesn't really do much different from another device you also stood in line for, often within the past couple of years?

    Sorry, you lost me.

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    Tigger_Two

    To be honest, I don't think my iPhone says Verizon. I recycled my clamshell phone when I got the new one, but hold on to hubby's old phone like grim death. It stopped being a phone long ago.

    I was at a retirement gathering of former co-workers last night. In all honesty, I went because one of hubby's former co-workers was one of the retirees and I knew that HE would have gone. I was amazed (well, not really) by how eagerly the most inane conversations were engaged in and once again saw how enthusiastically people avoided subjects that went any deeper than the weather.

    To an extent I get it. Even cocktail conversation can be held against you and most of the people were going to have to face one another in conference rooms the next morning. I guess I missed the point. Why spend an eight hour day walking on eggshells only to attend a social gathering to walk on eggshells?

    In that same crowded and noisy space, presumably populated with people you deliberately came to see, easily 50% were glued to some fascinating trivia on their phones. What did I miss?

    Like you, I see the benefit of technology. I also see it's downside. What I wish I saw more of is a balance.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Even though it was ostensibly a 'social' occasion, the event was work-related. Many of the people were probably there because they thought they should be there and not because they wanted to be there. People at such events quite often see themselves as still at work, and conduct themselves accordingly. Thus, some hold the most inane conversations and others bury themselves in their on-line leashes, all of them doing their best to not do or say anything that might get management's attention. (This excludes, of course, the suck-ups.) It's self-protection through obscurity.

    To present a different sample group, I spend an evening in a neighborhood bar once (occasionally twice) a week, a purely social environment for everybody there (except the staff). The clientele is a mix of locals of all ages, college students, faculty, and transients (usually guests from the motel next door). One subject always under discussion is, of course, who will win The Big Game, with the sport and teams varying with the season and the participants in the discussion. Other subjects I've heard being discussed range from the inane to the profound, from whether the God particle can be found to whether Kim Kardashian is a real blonde. :-& Very often, I will see members of a group take one last look at their phone, then put it into their pocket or purse, and not pull it out again over the course of the evening. Yes, people (especially the students) do respond to their Androids & iPhones, but what I haven't seen here is an individual in a group concentrating on their phone to the exclusion of the other group members. Nor have I seen groups of people buried in their phones and not talking to each other; in this setting, apparently, geeks don't group.

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    CharlieSpencer

    For the past several years I've noticed a shift in the mindset of this country. We no longer have any tolerance for delay. This is reflected in many of our habits, but especially in our information and communication technology tools and how we use them. I don't know if this is due to the way we've chosen to use these tools, or the way we've chosen to let them use us. But the more we interact with them, the less tolerance we have for delay.

    We no longer plan ahead. Instead, we rely on tools to let us fill our needs on the fly. Unfortunately, many have lost the ability to plan even the simplest things. I can understand calling a spouse to ask if we need chicken when it's on sale. However, yesterday I was grocery shopping and frequently crossed paths with someone who appeared to be on the phone constantly. It sounded like she was asking about every individual item on the shelf.

    No one plans a trip anymore, they just hop in and fire up the GPS. They may not have the slightest notion of even what major roads to take, so they can't attempt navigation when their blind obedience to the device leads them astray. (Sorry, not picking on you, but we've both seen it.)

    Marketing tells us it's desirable to be in constant contact. Why? It wasn't a necessity even ten years ago. Do I really need to know right now who my football team chose in the draft, or the latest inanity to pass through a celebrity's lips? What's the impact if I don't get the vacation photos on my web site for a couple of days? Does every message sent to us merit an immediate response? We've lost the ability to prioritize; questions about where to go for lunch are treated with the same urgency as a notice that Mom had a heart attack.

    All this immediacy leads to a failure to consider long-term consequences. We live in the 'Now', with reduced consideration for our actions. It's not just those who fail to consider the career impacts of the ill-advised Tweet. Look at the federal government and its repeated failure to deal with long-term problems. Kicking the can down the road occurs regardless of party in control of legislative or executive branches. Not only are elected representatives willing to make the big decisions, voters are won't elect anyone who says he will. Short-term convenience regularly trumps long-term necessity.

    I could go on, and probably will, but it's not just you. Maybe it's the result of the 'self esteem' approaches to child rearing. Maybe it's the desire for new toys, and the feeling that if we spent the money then we must maximize the use of them. Maybe it's just that I'm older and less adaptable. Or less gullible. Or less materialistic. Or more discerning regarding what I need vs. what I want.

    C'mon over and we'll scream at kids on my lawn together.

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    Tigger_Two

    The "Culture of Now" describes what I was thinking perfectly. You nailed it when you say that we don't seem to be capable of planning in any meaningful way any longer. When my cats get in my face and demand my attention RIGHT NOW it's cute. When the entire society I live in does it... not so much.

    I have fought against immediate gratification all my life. ADHD minds tend to see the entire world in terms of "now" and "not now". Learning to wait, learning to do the due diligence, learning to consider choices from a variety of angles, isn't something that came easily to me. It took active effort on my part... but I finally learned, only to find myself in a world that no longer seems to place a value on it.

    I have become obsolete.

    *sigh*

    Scream at the kids on the lawn? Yep. I'll bring the lap blankets and whiskey if you provide the rocking chairs.

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    dogknees

    Partly it's that people don't stick to their plans any more. Used to be, once you set out to go somewhere, no one could contact you to suggest something else. Now, my friends decide, when half way there, to go and see someone else because they posted on Twtr.

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    Tigger_Two

    Living with ADHD means that I live with a brain that is easily distracted and speeding through life at 100 mph. A ton of energy going in ten directions at once and accomplishing little if anything at all. Staying focused on a task is something that does not come easily to me at all. It has required significant training and medication.

    Yet I was taught that I needed to learn this- needed to learn to pick a direction and go in it, to stay focused on the task at hand. I was taught that learning this was not optional, that it was an important life skill that I needed to have. So I learned, and learned also to put the structures in place that enabled me to be successful at it.

    Now the world I live in changes on a whim. Plans are made, yet seldom followed through. Accomplishing a task is seldom as important as talking about accomplishing the task... which baffles me no end.

    Perhaps my ADHD brain is simply an early implementation of a necessary skill set- the ability to look really busy and directed while accomplishing little or nothing.

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    LocoLobo

    Cell phone, desktop, no GPS, no ipod or smartphone, not even a laptop. Joined facebook but hardly go there. Those shows you listed, "Dancing Bears", etc., don't even make sense to me.

    Your comment about IT serving us or the other way around reminded me of my Dad. He did almost all his auto repairs himself, to save money. Thing was he spent a significant amount of his free time (as a trucker he worked 60+ hrs/wk) fixing the cars. OTOH, by the time he was my age he was one of the best Mickey Mouse mechanics I ever saw.

    I think to each generation there's always something that changes for reasons that don't make sense.

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    Tigger_Two

    Your comment about your dad reminds me that one of the changes that surprises me is most people's inability to DO stuff.

    When I was a kid, it was expected that one would be able to sew- at least enough to replace a button or mend a seam. I was taught to cook and clean, but also to knit and crochet. I could catch a fish, clean that fish, and turn it into supper. These weren't considered to be "special skills", they were considered to be necessary to LIFE... as necessary as breathing.

    At one time, I had at least a 50/50 shot at fixing my car if I broke down. Today, the only thing I am able to reasonably do is put gas in it. The shade tree mechanic has become extinct as vehicles have become less mechanical and more computer.

    As far as television goes, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who is baffled by "reality" shows. I have hundreds of channels available at any time of the day or night... and watch a total of two programs with any regularity- Mythbusters and The Big Bang Theory. They can keep the rest.

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    LocoLobo

    Yeh. I know. But heaven forbid you just do stuff. You're supposed to call a professional to do it. I quit doing most of my auto repairs when I found a "simple" job, replacing the thermostat, took me 4 hours.

    It irks me to. Instead of teaching kids to become competent we teach them to call somebody. Of course that's just my perception. Of course you can still do most of your own work, but you have to spend hours researching sometimes to figure out how to do a 15 min job.

    BTW all those skills you were taught I was too, except sewing and knitting. That was my fault. My Mom tried but, "I'm not doing that!" Wish I had tho.

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    Tigger_Two

    The idea that no longer being self sufficient is good bugs the mess out of me. I understand that things change and all that, but the assumption that one shouldn't TRY- is foolish to try, even- bugs the mess out of me.

    Back in my support days, I encouraged end users to at least check the basics before yelling for help. To me, this seemed reasonable. Help Desk was going to ask them if they did these things, might as well do them BEFORE placing the call.

    I had a guy who had moved into the UNIX team from Help Desk. As I was heading for my desk one morning, he stopped me to tell me that he couldn't get to the network. I asked him if he had done the basics- reseat the cables at the plug points being step one. He assured me that he had.

    I reached around the back of the machine and picked up the network cable... not plugged in. He had the grace to look quite ashamed of himself.

    Not being able to do many things for myself is something I find VERY irritating. I own a tire gauge and know how to use it, but have to take the truck to Ford if the tire pressure light comes on. I am physically unable to check the pressure in the tires and physically unable to add air as needed.

    The same is both true, and not true of changing a tail light. I can physically do the work but am unable to figure out how to remove the housing in order to change the bulb. I never used to have that problem. The fix- replace a $0.69 bulb- cost me $60 to accomplish.

    *sigh*

    One of the most difficult things I have dealt with since hubby died is "call someone". When my washer decided that it was time to die, I spent an hour or two trying to troubleshoot the problem, and another hour or two trying to figure out WHO one calls about a broken washer. Hubby took care of that stuff.

    I can teach you the basics of sewing and knitting. I may have had a slight advantage- I am one of five daughters. Mom insisted that we be able to do the sewing and knitting stuff, Dad taught us to fish... and to clean the fish we caught.

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    cmiller5400

    This is the second time I'm posting this...

    Just the other day a friend and I were speaking about technology and its impact on us. It's quite frightful that when you go into a store and a teenaged kid types in the wrong amount into the register, and it gives them an absurd amount of change due, they just stare at the cash register like a deer in headlights. They have no concept of a simple task as making change.

    After working for 8-9 hours on computers at work, I go home and avoid my computer like the plague. People are often surprised that I'm not on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc... They constantly say, "well you are a geek so you must be on those sites." Ummm, No. Another client asked me if I had an iPhone. I said I have a simple 5 year old phone that I use for calling and the occasional text. That's it. I don't need access to the web or any other thing that it may offer. I have a GPS in my car that I love, but I still carry my trusty Rand McNally in the trunk. Call me cheap but I already pay $45 for internet at home and I'm not going to pay an additional $15 - $30 for access on my phone.

    Another thing my friend and I pondered was what would happen if the electrical grid went down due to a solar flare/storm and it was down for weeks, months or years. Could you survive? I think I could. Every summer I use to go to Maine with my Uncle before he passed away and we would spend 2 weeks without phones, power, and cell reception at his "Man Cave" (no bathrooms either. A port-a-potty in the garage or a tree were your choices ). Now that's roughing it. Nothing like sitting down to a campfire with good company and telling stories. I loved hearing my Uncle tell me about when he was in the Army during the Vietnam era and his travels across Europe.

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    Tigger_Two

    Hubby and I went camping every fall. He would go up and irritate the local grouse while I read (yes, a book with PAGES!) in the truck. About an hour before sundown we would pull into a camp area and put up the tent, make fire, grill a steak, and have a martini. There was generally an outhouse somewhere, but it was so darned COLD that a downwind tree was often the better choice.

    We'd wander back to civilization after a few days- him with greying stubble that reminded him yet again why he refused to grow a beard, and both of us in need of a shower and wearing blaze orange. We loved it.

    Up there, our phones didn't work and we didn't miss them. The computers stayed home and we didn't miss them either. The GPS wasn't optional- we had two. One lived in the truck, the other was a handheld that he insisted I carry on the theory that I would be able to find my way back to the truck should I get lost. Nice theory, but I never went further than the sound of his voice. I can get lost in my BATHROOM.

    I have the smallest plan for my iPhone that is reasonably available. The rationale for the phone was that it cut the number of devices I carry by one. With it, I no longer need a PDA. I find that I use it- or USED it quite a lot. The iPad is easier on my aging eyes as well as my aging back. Both tools are handy to have when the GPS decides to go bonkers. All the technology in the world can't keep me from getting lost on a regular basis and I don't have the option of staying close to hubby any more.

    Those chilly evenings by the campfire enjoying a martini and listening to the silence of the trees were some of the best in my life.

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    AV .

    After spending 25+ years running networks, I have to admit, I'm a computer junkie. I've developed a case of OCD because of the need to check things and poke around on the network at work, and at night I do things like pay the bills, shop, read TR, etc. I always have to have internet access. Thats how I run my life. Years ago, I used to get out the checkbook to pay my bills, but now I just go online and do it. Shopping is a dream. No longer do I have to bother going to the mall for most things. I think thats great.

    I draw the line when it comes to the cell phone. I don't answer it most times. I let it go to voicemail and call them back when I want to talk (unless its an emergency). The younger members in my family are all into texting. I really don't do it much. I just don't feel the need to be in touch with everyone all the time. They make fun of me sometimes because I don't text. I don't tweet either. What's the point of that? I have a Facebook page, but I rarely go on it. I just don't have time, unless I want to give up sleeping.

    I am just amazed at people and their phones. They can't put them down. Everyone does want everything NOW and if they can't get it, its a major problem. I work with attorneys and they now work 24/7 thanks to smart phones and terminal server access to the network. They're always connected. They have Bluetooth in the car and some even have Bluetooth headsets so they can talk on the phone while they're pouring a cup of coffee in the office kitchen. Its just sickness. I have a basic, dumb phone and I'm pretty happy with it. I can make phone calls and do a basic text if I want to. Still, I am going to trade it in for an iPhone, though I refuse to become one of those people that walk into walls looking at their phones.

    I think the technology companies have so permeated our culture, there is no looking back. The olden days that we remember are gone forever. The best advice I can give is to use technology in moderation so it doesn't take over your life.

    AV

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    Tigger_Two

    I agree completely with the premise that technology should be savored, not squandered. I have said for years that I will respond to my phone when and if I care to and not just because it rings. If I am upstairs, I don't know if it rings anyway- I leave it in my purse... downstairs.

    I don't think my plan includes text messages... much to my step-son's dismay. While not aggressively connected, he responds MUCH more quickly to a text than an email or call. The other side of that is that he has had texting capability for WAY longer than I have.

    Is this all generational? Could it be that I am stuck in a world of change primarily because of my age? I'm not that old- not yet 50.

    Still, I have seen my industry morph repeatedly since I entered it. The pace of change has been breath-taking and in fewer than 20 years. I've been out of technology for three years or so and find that I no longer bring a skill set to the table that a prospective employer wants or needs. I have become irrelevant and I don't even know when this happened.

    I'm not saying that change is inherently bad. I think that I am asking if change for the sake of change is good.

    Take TR- no, I'm not kvetching about TR, just using an example. When they changed the way TR works, they were trying to bring the look and feel of the site up to date. Is that bad? The result was that many community old-timers just stopped making the site an important part of their day. Is that bad? Were those who walked away simply not willing/able to change? Was the change too much, too soon? Was it a change that wasn't necessary in order to keep the doors open? Was it desperately needed in order to maintain business viability?

    What started this rant was not being able to use a website to do something I have done frequently and with little thought or effort. The website had changed- changed dramatically. It is virtually impossible to do anything functional on it at all. What is touted as an enhancement is, for me, a limitation to functionality. I began to wonder if I have become inflexible or if there is some mindset in operation that I don't understand.

    What gets me, though, is that my kid probably hardly notices the changes that stymied me.

    Have I truly become obsolete?

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    cmiller5400

    And I feel like things are getting out of hand.

    Change is good, but only when it enhances upon a function or adds a new function that enhances your "experience". Change for the sake of change is not productive. I relate it to BIOS updates, if there isn't something that is fixed in a new release that I am currently having an issue with, I don't update. It isn't worth the time if the update goes sour (which has happened and is a HUGE pain to deal with.)

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    Tigger_Two

    CMiller, you aren't that much older than my kid.

    *sigh*

    I agree with you- don't fix what isn't broken. Due diligence is a necessary step and any proposed change should be tested for viability prior to implementation. In virtually every change management team I have ever interacted with, there was a guy we were sure had been put on the team specifically to deny proposed changes.

    Lion OS has been out for my Mac for months. I haven't upgraded to it and have no plans to at this time. Snow Leopard has been stable and functional. The new interface brings nothing to my functionality table and could potentially break or disrupt things that I have, use and need. The change makes no sense.

    That said, I know that a great percentage of the user base upgrades reflexively. A pop up shows up and tells them to. Frankly, I blame IT for that to an extent- we TOLD users to do as they were told by the machine. It would appear that we successfully transmitted that message.

    Getting out of hand? Yep. I'll pack an extra blanket and you can join Palmie and I on the porch, yelling at the kids on the lawn.

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    CharlieSpencer

    It's not so much that we grew up with certain technologies, it's that we grew up WITHOUT certain ones.

    I got along fine for decades before cell phones and GPS became affordable to the general public, or before DARPA cut the Internet loose and you had a way to get television beside three networks and an antenna. As such, I grew up comfortably (by the standards of the time) without what much now take for granted. I never had them so I don't miss them.

    I've adopted the technologies I find useful to me (DVRs, MP3 players, a basic cell phone on a 'pay as you go' plan, satellite-delivered TV) and ignored or remained on the sidelines for those I don't perceive as wants or needs (game consoles, 'smart' phones, Internet-delivered streamed entertainment, social networks). That's not unique to my generation or technology; this has been ongoing since the Industrial Revolution or maybe the Renaissance. Prior to those, tools and methods didn't change as rapidly.

    Who knows, I may find a use for some of these geegaws in the next few years. I didn't get a cell phone until about nine months ago, when I found a model and payment plan cheap enough to suit me. Even now I only use it on long trips. I may find a tablet to be a viable option one day if the hardware and connectivity costs drop by about 70%. I may hook a computer to the TV to stream content, if there's every anything I want to watch that isn't available via my existing delivery methods.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    The hardest thing for most humans to do is nothing. All those people who have to be doing something never quite grasp the idea that just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do that thing. And too many humans have to be doing SOMETHING, even if it's make-work. (I have a sister-in-law who can't sit for more than a few seconds without thinking of something else that "needs" to be done and popping right back up to do it. Watching her wears me out!) Other people base their self-image on what they have or what they do rather than on who they are. People like these are the people buying the new gadget every time the "latest and greatest" hits the street.

    Another contributing factor is our increasing cultural selfishness ("alone in the world" syndrome). People just don't care about others as long they have what they want. (Maybe that's too far. Americans will dig deep to contribute to victims of disasters, so they do care. Let's try "don't think about others.") This attitude is epitomized by the texting driver, blithely oblivious to anything but the latest from one of his (or her) dozens of "friends."

    Finally, there's the sales pitch from the technology companies, trying to convince us that if we only have enough technology, we won't need anything else. But what is overlooked by the in-duh-vidual is that, while having technology may make you look smarter, it doesn't actually make you smarter. If the only poetry you could write with a pen and paper was inane free verse, a computer and MS Word will only help you create more inanity, faster. If you are the king of asinine one-liners, all you will post on Twitter and Facebook is—surprise! :0 —asinine one-liners.

    Throw these factors into society, shake well, and you get what we've got: change for the sake of change. Unfortunately, change for its own sake is now comparatively inexpensive, enabled by the technology humans have created over the past several decades.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not against change. I've been working with electronics and computers since I was in high school. The changes have been immense over the past 40 years:
    * discrete transistors are gone. They've been combined into integrated circuits.
    * My first transistor radio was three inches by six inches and almost two inches deep. All that circuitry now fits onto a one-micrometer square piece of silicon, with room to spare.
    * My cell phone has more memory and processing power than the first mainframe I worked on. That mainframe consumed most of the floor space in a 30 x 24 room; the phone fits into my pocket. One hard drive assembly alone consumed almost 20 square feet of floor space...and provided less than half the storage available on my phone.
    * Floppy disks, Zip drives, analog tape cassettes. All gone, replaced by optical media and thumbdrives.
    I have embraced these changes, not just because it's part of my job, but because they were an improvement over the previous technology.

    Other changes, not so much.

    Twitter? Remember all those throw-away one-liners? Now, they're part of the record; is that something to be proud of?
    Facebook? Sure, it's an easy way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. It also reminds you why you really don't care if you hear from some of those people except at Christmas, when you pull the letter from the card, stand the card on the mantel with the others, and throw away the letter...unread. And let's not forget those friend requests from people you couldn't stand back then, but who seem to think they deserve your attention now.
    Texting? One of the most pathetic things I've ever seen was a couple sitting on a park bench, both busy texting. As I watched them, I realized the text exchange that had them so enthralled was between the two of them! Rather than talking, they were texting. At the end of the "conversation", they even leaned over and kissed each other. Are you effing kidding me?

    I love technology. I embrace technology. It pays my bills and it's fun to play with. But I have yet to figure out why it is more important to hold a texting conversation on your phone than it is to talk to the person sitting next to you at the dinner table...on the park bench...in the bar...or on the patio. (I miss the patio. :-( )

    Yeah, I rambled...sue me. And I'm keeping my clamshell phone (that says Cingular) for as long as it works!

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    AnsuGisalas

    that maybe the texting couple were somehow shy about using their native Ameslan in public (because Ameslan can be "overheard" from quite a long way away ).
    All other possibilities are straight out of ****...

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    cmiller5400

    And I if I dug into the abyss of my closet, I'd probably find my old AT&T cell phone before they merged with Cingular

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    When you find the phone that says "Cellular One"...

    And, in case I wasn't clear enough, the clamshell I have is the active phone!

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    CharlieSpencer

    I caught part of a radio story this morning about a near-riot over the Chinese release of the iPhone 4S.

    I don't understand standing in line for something that isn't limited in quantity or shelf life. I can understand camping out for concert tickets or even ridiculously low priced special sales; I've done that a couple of times myself. But standing in line to fight over something just to be the first to have it, something that will continue to be available at the same price for months? Something that doesn't really do much different from another device you also stood in line for, often within the past couple of years?

    Sorry, you lost me.

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    Tigger_Two

    To be honest, I don't think my iPhone says Verizon. I recycled my clamshell phone when I got the new one, but hold on to hubby's old phone like grim death. It stopped being a phone long ago.

    I was at a retirement gathering of former co-workers last night. In all honesty, I went because one of hubby's former co-workers was one of the retirees and I knew that HE would have gone. I was amazed (well, not really) by how eagerly the most inane conversations were engaged in and once again saw how enthusiastically people avoided subjects that went any deeper than the weather.

    To an extent I get it. Even cocktail conversation can be held against you and most of the people were going to have to face one another in conference rooms the next morning. I guess I missed the point. Why spend an eight hour day walking on eggshells only to attend a social gathering to walk on eggshells?

    In that same crowded and noisy space, presumably populated with people you deliberately came to see, easily 50% were glued to some fascinating trivia on their phones. What did I miss?

    Like you, I see the benefit of technology. I also see it's downside. What I wish I saw more of is a balance.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Even though it was ostensibly a 'social' occasion, the event was work-related. Many of the people were probably there because they thought they should be there and not because they wanted to be there. People at such events quite often see themselves as still at work, and conduct themselves accordingly. Thus, some hold the most inane conversations and others bury themselves in their on-line leashes, all of them doing their best to not do or say anything that might get management's attention. (This excludes, of course, the suck-ups.) It's self-protection through obscurity.

    To present a different sample group, I spend an evening in a neighborhood bar once (occasionally twice) a week, a purely social environment for everybody there (except the staff). The clientele is a mix of locals of all ages, college students, faculty, and transients (usually guests from the motel next door). One subject always under discussion is, of course, who will win The Big Game, with the sport and teams varying with the season and the participants in the discussion. Other subjects I've heard being discussed range from the inane to the profound, from whether the God particle can be found to whether Kim Kardashian is a real blonde. :-& Very often, I will see members of a group take one last look at their phone, then put it into their pocket or purse, and not pull it out again over the course of the evening. Yes, people (especially the students) do respond to their Androids & iPhones, but what I haven't seen here is an individual in a group concentrating on their phone to the exclusion of the other group members. Nor have I seen groups of people buried in their phones and not talking to each other; in this setting, apparently, geeks don't group.