Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Exchange a tweet for a real live Hello!

Everyone has their tech products, myself included. I have a macbook that I bought used and refurbished from ebay for $500 in January of 2010. It's a 2006 macbook but it works fine. I don't have much battery life when it is not connected directly to a power source but that's fine because I usually use it at home or somewhere inside like a cafe or restaurant that has an outlet nearby. Anyway, mac products and personal devices are everywhere. It seems like every other person has an iphone and if it isn't an iphone it is a smartphone. I personally don't feel like I need an iphone and it is just a liability in Peru. I guess I technically have one because it takes pictures and if I had internet service I could access facebook and the internet but I don't so it's not a smartphone for me. Now, in terms of liability, American's are not safe from tech theft. It has risen a lot in the past few years in the States. My cousin in New York City was victim to a seriously violent robbing of his girlfriend's ipad that left him with a jaw wired shut and a knee injury. That's super scary. He ended up writing an article on it for the Wall Street Journal where he works. Hey, that's definitely a way to make a positive out of a negative. Mac and other companies are coming up with more security features so that devices cannot be activated or used if they are stolen but I don't think that is going to stop the second hand selling of all the items. People are smart and techies can get around applications.

Don't get me wrong. I love having a computer and access to the internet. It's a wonderful thing. It keeps me in contact with family that is far away and up to date of the latest in news around the world. I can type super fast and update my blog and listen to tons of music. I can edit movies and post pictures and write a ton but there are downfalls to being so immersed in technology. I think the biggest downside to all the technology is not the possibility of theft and loss of a lot of money but that people are losing contact with one another and they are losing social graces. I have see so many people out at dinner or in bars or wherever in public and they are so plugged into their phones that they lose all social interaction with the people they are with. That's kind of sad if you ask me. Why go out if you are just going to click away on facebook or twitter on your phone? It seems a bit counter-intuitive right? Something I love about being in Peru is that you don't see as much of that as you do in the States. Obviously, you see it here but it isn't as prevalent. The majority of people who are going out are tourists and they aren't trying to be stuck on their phones the entire time. Of course, there was the other night when I was playing with Claudio and the two people at the bar were both on their phones. They clapped after the songs were over but it's totally disconcerting singing to people who are plugged into their phone. The locals here don't have smartphones for the most part. They are getting more popular but most choose to use their cheap 60 soles phones. I don't blame them either because pickpocketing is popular here. Why waste money on a nice phone when it is most likely going to be lost or stolen?

Something else that helps with social interaction is geography. The geographic make-up of Cusco is such that everyone is outside walking or on a combi. Personal cars are almost unheard of so most people use public transportation or walk places. Cusco isn't terribly big and it doesn't take long to get anywhere. I run into people I know all the time because we are all out walking around. I used to run into someone I knew in Evanston once every couple of weeks or so. Everyone is in their cars. I saw more people I knew going to the YMCA but that is because it is a community space but out and about it was not as common. I guess what all this rambling sums up is that slowly but surely, American's are isolating themselves with all the technology they have and the social, geographic daily norms are not helping the situation. Peru, as it seems is on the same path with all the hype about smartphones but at least in Cusco there is still a geographic aspect that helps to keep people in personal contact with one another. To anyone reading this I challenge you to get outside and take a walk and see if you run into anyone you know. Say hello to someone who you might not know! It could make their day! Oh, and I also challenge you to not look at your phone while you are out with a friend for lunch or a get together. THAT might be more difficult.


Haha, I think this picture is a scary and funny representation of what is happening to relationships.


  1. For some time now here in the Chicago area, it has been unusual for people to speak to each other on the street, in common with most urban areas. Averted gazes and vacant looks on the face gave the impression that others around don't exist. Now, with gadgets, it's possible to actually DO something that will make it possible to not be present in any meaningful sense.

    I think for women out alone it is a security device - they don't want to have a stranger speak to them and being busy talking is a good way to ward that off, in addition to providing the obvious connection to another person to call for help immediately should anything frightening come up.

    But generally it's becoming rare to see anyone on the street looking where they are going. With eyes, and often ears, occupied, they are in a virtual world. I enjoy being outside because it is a break from PC use. The last thing I would want would be a phone would interrupt my picking up litter! :)

    On the other hand, I think for the natural world, the distraction/attraction of human beings into the virtual world may prove to be a salvation. People are now so technologically empowered that they can go essentially anywhere on earth and frequently take some big vehicle with them. Supposedly wild places are taking a beating. Garbage piles up on Mount Everest, as an example.

    Virtual reality provides a safe but mentally stimulating place that leaves Mother Nature unmolested. As 3D HD video grows, the virtual can seem more exciting and engrossing than the real thing - and millions can do the same thing at once, which wouldn't be possible in reality. Want to go over a virtual Niagara Falls in a barrel? Go for it! Machines that simulate reality for the rest of the body won't be far off - modifying exercise machines would be a start - put on a heads-up display and you really are walking in some fantastic scenario, while going nowhere in reality.

    So I hope that virtual empowerment will diminish actual physical, on the scene, physical involvement. One possible down side might be that, once people don't really go out into the real world, they will not care if that real world is preserved, because few use it.

  2. The last comment you made about people forgetting about the real world is something that scares me. You have a point about the virtual world being a way for people not to make such a mess of the world but it will make them less active and care less about the world outside. What a predicament!