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     Volume 5 Issue 109 | August 25, 2006 |

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Straight talk

A Break from Technology

Nadia Kabir Barb

Looking at the clear blue sky and the vibrant blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea crashing onto the cliffs, one would think I would be enjoying the magnificent view. Normally the feeling I would be experiencing would be one of calm and tranquillity. However on this particular occasion all I could feel was an overwhelming sense of frustration! On the one hand my irritation was far from minor and on the other hand the reason for my exasperation was downright shameful. The fact that I had to write my article by hand was bringing me out into a cold sweat. It just made me realise exactly how dependent on technology many of us have become. I cannot even recall whose bright idea it was to leave the laptop at home along with the play station, X-box etc. At the time it seemed like a very sensible idea to desist from bringing with us the various bits of paraphernalia that have become such an integral part of our day to day lives.

Having to pick up a pen and actually put it to paper made me think that apart from signing my name on cheques and writing a few comments in my children's homework diaries, I hardly write anything by hand any more. This is true for a huge number of people since the widespread use of computers. If you really think about it, when was the last time any one of us wrote a letter by hand? I know in my case that it has probably been a fair few years. These days it is so much more convenient to send an email or even a text message. It takes hardly any time for the recipient to receive the correspondence and they can reply almost immediately unlike letters where there is always a time lag involved. Even if we decide to write a letter, it seems more practical to us to type the letter so as to avoid the other person not being able to read our writing or to avoid spelling errors which can be corrected by the software you happen to be using at the time. Although emails and the like are a highly efficient way of staying in touch with people, somehow it does not come close to the feeling you get when you receive a letter written by hand. There is something very personal about a handwritten letter which I think cannot be compared a few lines typed off in a couple of minutes and sent via electronic mail! At least you feel that the person sending the letter spent some time in composing it and gave it a much greater amount of thought than when it was a hurried and often impersonal email.

Nowadays, even in schools, colleges and Universities, essays are typed up on PCs and sometimes they are not even accepted if they are hand written. Once again I can see the reasoning behind the thought process whereby it saves the teacher or person marking the paper to try and read writing that is hard to decipher or marking someone down due to the fact that their writing is illegible. But it also sets us up as in most countries, exams papers are still hand written and it can become a disadvantage if one becomes dependent on computers to aid us in writing our papers. As the software readily available to us can correct spelling and grammar, it can have a negative impact on our own ability to spell correctly and use the correct grammar.

This is not to say that I am against advances in technology, on the contrary I think that in most fields especially scientific and medical, the progress is not only laudable but also staggering. There is probably no need for me to even begin to talk about some of the current day miracles advanced technology has given us. However, in certain respects, it occurs to me that we are losing a little bit of our soul as well. Maybe I am wrong but children nowadays hardly ever seem to use their imagination. There is constant stimuli provided by television programmes, computer games, Nintendo, Play Station games etc. In fact if it is possible for a child to be entertained 24/7 without even having to leave the confines of their room and that is a rather depressing thought. Although the argument put forward might be that they are being stimulated mentally. I may beg to differ on that point as I hardly think that these games require you to use your imagination or provide a child with the physical activities that are prerequisite for healthy development. It really does not equate to climbing trees, running around, playing football or even sitting and playing board games.

It is funny how something as trivial as having to write my article by hand should at first arouse a sense of annoyance in the first instance to be replaced by feelings of regret and satisfaction all at once. Regret that most of us no longer feel the need to invest a few minutes of our time composing a letter and sending it to someone dear. And satisfaction that by not bringing the PC or play station, I can watch my children utilise their time by playing outside, drawing and playing board games instead of staring into a screen for hours on end! The more and more techno savvy people are becoming, the more and more technology dependent we are becoming as well.

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