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Michael Drew Headshot

Technological Glitches and Simplifying LIfe

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Every so often I wonder if it's time to simplify.

Everyone knows that the new iPhone will soon come out -- and Apple is such an important force in the smartphone market that even an upgrade makes news. Should I get the new one? Is my current phone adequate? When should we replace technology? Is it even necessary to have an iPhone rather than, say, a Samsung? I am positive that I'm not alone in asking these questions. I've followed the announcements, and read the reviews and, like any Apple fan (and technology sucker), I'm intrigued.

We are, as everyone knows, enabled by technology, sometimes to the point of paralysis, which seems to be a contradiction. After all, technology allows me to work from anywhere in the world, as it does my colleagues. One of my business partners spends some time in France, and keeps in touch via Skype and online conferencing and email.

At the same time, technology betrays us. This same partner was in a state of anguish after his computer crashed abroad, and he had to rely on another piece of technology, the iPad, in the meantime. Now, all of his files (or most of them) are stored in the cloud somewhere, yet even a much-heralded tablet is no substitute for a computer with a real keyboard, and a real computer's ability to access data, and to enable the writing and editing of documents. His anguish made me think about how much we've lost in relying on something that gives us freedom. While he could work on a paper notepad, with a pen (as he did in writing his first book), his ability (for him) to remain in touch was diminished by the disruption in the constant ease of technological access he'd become accustomed to.

I know that if I were without my laptop, I'd be in a pickle. But even 10 years ago, I somehow managed without having it by my side all the time. I quickly grew reliant on it as an outgrowth, as it were, of my communication skills and my job performance.

People can mock those who rely on technology, but that technology has permitted modern companies, such as mine, to exist, with workers staying in touch across time zones, in different cities and from different countries. Technology allows freedom, provided that technology works.

So, in terms of simplifying, what would I do? I'm not talking about those temporary so-called fixes that so many well-meaning lifestyle guides suggest, such as turn-off-your-computer or stay-off-the-grid days. I mean, please. Technology is here, this is not "Revolution" (that rather mediocre hit NBC series about a worldwide electronic blackout), and turning off your e-device won't give you peace of mind.

So, simplifying: I don't have an answer. I should, perhaps, consider the breakdown of a technological tool something akin to a person's being out sick. Everyone can relate to that, and a sick person can get better while lying on the couch for a day or two watching marathons of Law and Order or catching up on Breaking Bad (provided the cable service and television work). And then there are always old-fashioned books. We need to realize that technology gets sick sometimes, too. Perhaps the answer isn't simplifying as much as it is trying to be patient. Things break down.

And we need to be okay with that.