28 May 2010

Day 62: Changeless

Changeless by Gail Carriger.  ISBN: 9780316074148.

I am very much enjoying this series, if you couldn't tell since I just finished the last book  less than a week ago.  What can I say, I only promised I would try to space out reading series.  Luckily the next book isn't out until September, and the final book of The Hunger Games isn't out until August.  This particular kind of book doesn't really lend itself well to this project, but it is so much fun to read and I felt the need to reward myself after The Gone-Away World and The Atlantis Code.

The thing is, reading this book I've come to the conclusion that I really don't care that much for steampunk.  I know this will disappoint my fiance, who seems to have an affection for the genre, but I just can't get into gadgetry.  I don't find detailed and complicated descriptions of wheels and gears and cogs and steam-power working together to do something all that interesting.  And I have an issue with authors who focus mainly on the technology in steampunk novels as it detracts greatly from character and plot development.  These things also tend to annoy me because I can't actually play with the gadgets.

I will admit, I'm not really all that big on new gadgets.  This is not to say I don't like new technology and that I don't see it's value, etc.  I do have a problem with people running out to get the latest new thing when they can't afford it (or can't afford to replace it), just because they're somehow "supposed" to have it.  Once again, I laugh at the people on FML who manage to damage their iPhones and whine about it.  Really?  Come on, it's an Extra.  Extras are things you get in life that you don't really need, but that add a little something that makes it easier or more enjoyable.  I will admit, most people need a cell phone nowadays.  You could argue against that, but with the scarcity of payphones and the inconvenience of landlines, that is the way our society is going.  But unless your work requires you to have constant access to the internet and all those crazy applications, you do not need an iPhone (or similar).  

I'm not going to say I'm slow on the uptake, but I don't have a lot of opportunities to play with new gadgets.  I've messed around with the iTouch.  I like that technology seems to be getting easier to use, but I don't tend to integrate it into my life right away and I don't think we should be so quick about that.  People seem to focus only on the positive things when they incorporate new toys into their lives, but we don't have any Mary Shelley's anymore to make people stop and think about how far it should go and how connected we should be.  People don't consider that if they buy an iPhone, they're going to have to buy a new iPhone if their original gets damaged, stolen, lost, or old.  They will have to because they got used to the constant access and functionality of the Extra and now they can't live without it..  It's too difficult to revert to not-having than to stay in a state of never-had.  

My cell phone cost $90 about 3 years ago. It sucked to pay that much because I was just starting grad school and I was not expecting to have to pay so much for a basic need (because I didn't have a landline).  However, I can afford to replace a $90 phone, especially now that the model I have is probably more in the $20-30 range, and I've dropped that damn thing more times than I can count.  I cannot afford to buy an iPhone, and I don't think it warrants the extra monthly expense for data packets and all that other crap that involves being in a "3G network."  I'm just not interested.  

I have slowly adjusted to having and using my GPS.  I still don't like having it, because after working in insurance for over a year, I know that people will break into cars just for the GPS.  Luckily I have a very unassuming car and I keep the GPS and charger in the glove box pretty much all the time.  I use the GPS for emergencies, and occasionally when I'm bored and curious about how much longer I have to drive to get from Ohio to Alabama or wherever.  But I still rely primarily on maps.  And I know how to use maps.  I sort of wonder if that's a skill that will slowly disappear from the next generation.  We have websites built for 2-year-olds now.  I kind of have a problem with that.  The younger years are so formative and important that there has to be a negative affect when exposing someone that young to the television or the internet.  

It's a problem.  You're supposed to be interacting with a child that young, not sitting her down in front of a computer and clicking the mouse for her as bright colors flash across the screen.  Most of those websites are trying to sell something anyway; don't you want to have a little more control over the messages your child receives?  You're already going to have problems getting the kid to listen to you when he's 15; if you start letting someone else tell your child what to do when they're 2, what kind of ground do you think you'll have to stand on?

I spent more time in front of the tv as a kid than I care to admit.  I think it prevented me from having some really great opportunities, or at the very least from reading more books.  I still read a lot, I still had a lot, but it took me about 20 years to really develop strong social skills.  That's right, I didn't get good at socializing until I was about 22, and even then I had some terrible, terrible snafus because I have trouble reading people sometimes.  If I had spent more time with kids my age (I usually socialized with older kids or adults when I was younger...and still do), I might not have had so many problems in high school and grade school.  It's not all technology's fault, but I do think people ought to consider its effects a little more.  Sure, you can access information, but you don't necessarily have total control of that information.  Are you sure you want to create more opportunities to have less control over what you're exposed to?

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