Myth of Ownership

“Luddite” doesn’t really describe me.  I don’t have a problem with technology, but I often object to how its used.  Let me give an example or two.  You spend your hard-earned money on a device—smart phone, for instance, and/or a laptop computer.  These you use for your personal email, which you’re not allowed to check at work, and for paying bills and buying new stuff.  So far, so good.  But once these devices become ubiquitous enough, others presume the right to use them.  Never mind that you’re paying for the internet plan and your likely unreasonable monthly fees for using that phone.  Employers, for instance, concerned about their own security, require you to use your personal phone for some kind of authentication app to protect their assets.  Hmm, and who is paying for the data use on that phone?  And the wifi that makes it work?

Or consider a volunteer organization that’s taken over by a technocrat.  Suddenly you have to set up Dropbox on your laptop (with its attendant frequent emails asking you to upgrade until he seated on a white horse comes through the skies).  You can’t participate without access to the Dropbox.  Or maybe they want you to join Slack.  The problem, it seems to me, isn’t that we don’t have enough way to communicate.  No, the problem is we don’t communicate well with what we do have.  Terse messages may be understandable for smoke signals or telegrams, but a greeting, body, and closing aren’t too much to ask for an email.  I don’t text largely because too many misunderstandings occur from the brevity, and not infrequently, from auto-correct.

I use technology daily.  For about a dozen years now I’ve been posting daily right here on this very internet.  A have a neglected Twitter account and I glimpse Facebook for, literally, about two minutes per day.  I can be reached on LinkedIn (and no, I don’t have any jobs to offer), Instagram, and yes, even Slack.  We’re all available to each other constantly, but communication breaks down when we don’t communicate clearly.  A writer I greatly respect once told me emojis are cheating.  I tend not to use them, but they may help the terse text go down a little more smoothly.  We are all challenged for time.  There’s so much to do and we’re not getting any younger.  But I was born in an era in which if you use somebody else’s stuff you ask nicely first and said “thank you” after.  Especially if they’re paying for you to use it.

Who owns whom?

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