As I was thinking about this post on technology and I saw this picture go viral on Facebook, my mind couldn’t help but turn to all our friends and loved ones who braved Hurricane Sandy last week and were left for days without power. When you literally can’t plug-in, what are the things that you would miss the most? What kinds of technology help run your lives?
For me, my day begins and ends with… my phone. It wakes me up in the morning with an alarm. On it, I check the weather and my emails, among which are my Daily Hopes and a variety of other inspirational sources for the day. And of course, it also has my calendar. This is all before I get on my laptop, or eat breakfast, and sometimes before I go to the bathroom! Don’t even tell me you don’t do it too! So the thought of having that low batt warning come up and not have a way to recharge sends a flood of panic through me. I would be lost… without my Google map… and I wouldn’t even be able to call anyone else to check their Google map!
Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do — run my online business from home, which in turn makes it possible for me to be home for my kids when they need me. After the kids are off to school, I power up all the gadgets that keep this all going: the laptop, the printer/fax/scanner. Fortunately or not, these pieces of equipment are what make it possible for me to work as well as connect me with colleagues, collaborators, and friends.
And, what would we do without the ubiquitous web? Think of all the shelf space I save by not having to own a complete encyclopedia set… or a dictionary and thesaurus… or cookbooks for that matter. As my kids do their homework, I take for granted that we have access to more information than my entire college library, right at their fingertips.
For entertainment, my kids love that Kindle Fire. It seems like a Western family in 2012 is incomplete without ipods, tablets, and digital video recorders. We are probably the small minority that don’t own a TV. However, we have an all-in-one desktop that pretty much takes it’s place. We use it to watch our favorite DVD’s and stream movies from Netflix for family movie night.
All of this would be impossible if Mr. Franklin hadn’t braved that storm. Speaking of storms… when I was a little girl growing up in The Philippines, the power went out all the time, especially during the annual monsoon season when the country is hit with typhoon after typhoon. Wind speeds during these storms would get up to 200 mph. My mom tells a story of how their roof blew off — one minute everything was normal and the next, the room was flooded with light… and rain! Why? Because the powerful winds blew a hanging light fixture on the porch through a window and the wind swept through the hole it made, lifting the roof up from underneath.
I digress but my point is that during the early evenings and nights with no power, when we would all gather around the dining room table by candlelight, there was an eerie silence, the absence of the hum of all things electrical — the refridgerator, the TV, the radio, even the buzz from the florescent bulbs….
I look around at my living space today and in addition to those cool pieces of technology (that would have been pure science fiction in my girlhood), there are other electric gadgets and appliances humming all around me: the heater, for one. Right now, we’ve got space heaters, humidifiers, air purifiers all with flickering or blinking lights.
We take for granted that we can power these up at any time. What happens when you reach for a switch and nothing happens? Gasp! So in truth, the technology that we really can’t live without, are not the ones we first think of — Facebook will still be there when the power comes back on in a week. It’s the same things that worried my parents thirty years ago — the appliances, the lights, and right now for our friends on the East Coast, heat too.
If you are sitting in a warm house and using your tablet/laptop/phone to read this, take a moment to use technology to help those still in need right now. Make a donation to the American Red Cross, who is providing shelter, food, and hurricane relief items.
photo credit: everyone