Growing up in a time when technology was just beginning to really become a big part of our lives, I have never experienced a world without a computer. By the time I was about six I was far more literate than my parents, having spent many an hour rotting my fragile developing brain in front of my father’s beige Windows 98. My favorite thing to do was play the Jumpstart educational development series, grades K thru 5. It was a time when my mom actually encouraged me to play those games (at a higher grade level of course). Unfortunately, those days ended right around the time I got my first Gameboy Color. Since then, I’ve always been a bit of a tech geek, in perpetual admiration of whatever the wizards at Microsoft, Sony, and Apple bestowed upon the world.
It’s been close to 15 years since I first played Pokemon Red version. Now we have advanced from desktops and dial-up, submersed now in a world of smartphones, Google, hash tags, and memes. It’s been over a decade since the first white brick Apple dubbed the iPod was brought to us. Now we have a cellular version of the same device, capable of internet access, video viewing, and the ability to fire comically draw birds at greedy hogs with a pigmentation disorder (no pun intended). We can have a face to face phone call with someone across the world on a device that’s paper thin. We can capture and share some of the greatest/funniest moments of our lives almost instantaneously. We have the power to start revolutions, the ability to change the balance of power in faraway lands, and bring civil liberties to the minorities. Technology is one of the things that has brought us closer than ever before.
So why would I write a negative commentary on such a thing? Why would I apparently go back on everything I just wrote and explain why not to invest in such a universal tool? Well there is, as with everything else, a need for moderation. If you looked up from this screen (perhaps a tablet screen?) and observed from the bench/decoratively minimalist coffee stained lounge chair on which you sit, you will probably find at least three people in your immediate vicinity doing what you just were. Scrolling, texting, tweeting, +1ing (yeah right), all of them oblivious to the world around them. Now I’m not an advocate for technological abstinence, in fact I admit to just occasionally scrolling through an unchanging newsfeed on Facebook when I’m bored. My aim isn’t to pull you away from your addiction, but to make you aware of all the sources of it. Phones, desktops, notebooks, and yes, tablets. Apple created the first tablet that you recognize today in 2010 (the first actual patent of a “tablet” was in 1888) and since then dozens of lookalikes were produced by competitors.
In its simplest form it was a steam rolled iPhone, with optional mobile connectivity. Data subscriptions were made available by all the major carriers, and with dozens of apps like Tango and Skype, one could make phone and video calls on something five times bigger than their actual cell phone. Apparently size was no longer a concern for consumers, Apple and company just wanted to deal with the font size complaints in the most profitable way possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I like tablets. They are a great way to fill the empty spaces in my bookshelf. But do you really need to get one this Christmas? Do you really need a 68% accuracy rated touch keyboard in jumbo size (or in the cost efficient mini-jumbo)? Do you really want to lug around another chunk of metal and glass just so you are always up to date on your Tumblr feed? Now, I would understand if you didn’t already own an HP, Galaxy S III, and a Blackberry. But have you taken the time to realize how cluttered you feel having to carry around all of them at once? If you are buying one to be more efficient at work, have fun ignoring those Facebook notifications. If you are getting it for your niece, she’ll almost certainly drop it out on the playground and be forced to expend that built up energy anyway. And if you are buying it for your aging parents, you will regret it after the eighth call on how to work the lock screen.
So this holiday season, think very carefully when you pass the electronics section. And if you do decide to get a tablet for reasons you find legitimate, I hope you’re patient. You won’t get it until February anyway.