By Neil H. Reig
Technology can be a wonderful thing. It certainly enables us to connect in ways we never dreamed of back in the 1970s when I was a child growing up in Brooklyn.
Back then, there were no such things as smart phones, smart watches, posting on social media or texting. If we wanted to call a friend, we were constrained by the phone cord and were often under the watching eyes of our parents, who were ever so time and cost conscious of the telephone bill to come, and were even more chastising when, in our college days, we made our weekly calls from the dorm and asked the operator to “reverse the charges.”
For some younger generations, the stuff above is stuff of legend. They can glimpse life without computers and cell phones by watching old tv shows like Columbo (one of my favorites- he solved all the mysteries long before the use of DNA technology!) and the Brady Bunch (architects take note:there was a literal drawing board to which Mr. Brady often “went back.”)
But while they can watch old shows and movies, as well as broadcasts of old news events, young people today rely upon the multifaceted aspects of technology to work, learn and play in a way my generation could have never imagined. This has enabled productivity and efficiency.
The good news about smart phones is it allows us to multitask, but the bad news is…. it endangers our ability to complete each of the tasks we are multitasking.
The truth is, like fast food and wine, too much technology is not always a good thing. If not used wisely, it can sometimes hurt more than help.
To demonstrate this, let’s create three imaginary friends – Joe, Frank and Sally.
Suppose Joe is speaking with Sally on his cell when he notices a text from Frank. Joe politely asks Sally to hold a minute while he texts Frank back. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Joe, while he is asking Sally to hold, Frank begins to text Sally and tells Sally that he is receiving a text from Joe at that precise moment. If the purpose of the calls was to coordinate the purchase of tickets to see a sporting event or a Broadway show, the last three tickets may have disappeared during these fast-paced, but unproductive, few minutes.
We have to be deliberate and prudent. We can’t let the very technology that enables us, disable us. It’s important to remember that we need to complete one task, or at least a portion of one task, before engaging upon another. Otherwise we risk working towards many but completing none.
Which brings back me to the title of this column. “Slow and steady” does indeed “win the race.” As does “keeping your eye on the ball.” The fact that we CAN make the most of technology does not necessarily mean that we always SHOULD.
When using our smart devices on our journey of accomplishment, let’s get to our destination carefully, safely and responsibly, and enjoy, but not be distracted, by the sights we see along the way.
Neil H. Reig is an attorney in Mount Kisco and a Bedford resident. While he was writing this article he was glancing up at the NASA TV coverage of the two American astronauts returning to Earth after their two month stay aboard the International Space Station. While a space enthusiast who is looking forward to the first “splashdown” in about 45 years, Neil did not let his excitement deter him from completing this piece.