I remember being ten years old at a garage sale with my parents when I saw an old cardboard box sitting nondescriptly underneath a table. It caught my eye because it had a computer keyboard sticking out of it wrapped inside a tangle of beige cords. I carefully examined its contents and realized it was an entire computing system, some type of old Atari machine that used floppy discs. I was completely unfamiliar with what it was or what it could do, but it was fascinating to my ten-year old mind. It was only around $10 and I managed to convince my parents to buy it for me.
I remember taking it home and feeling like it was Christmas morning. I brought it down into our basement and started figuring out how to hook it up to our old TV. There was no instructions, but after numerous trial and error, I got it working. The TV started blaring out computerized beeps and the screen flickered with monochromic menus. It had a simple baseball game that I played with for awhile, and some other random discs with various software. Looking back, it shouldn’t have been that exciting, and I didn’t get much use out of the thing. Yet, I was fascinated with the fact I could take this old box of electronics, figure out how it worked, and make it do things.
I feel that many others have similar stories about their childhood joy in experiencing technology, however, I wonder if most of us have let that joy wither as we’ve gotten older. It’s very easy to become so entrenched in technology that you take it for granted and become cynical. You forget how utterly amazing these products being released actually are and focus on relatively minor issues.
This tablet weighs a few ounces too much… this color gamut is slightly off… this button is a bit too small.
There, of course, is a need to focus on minor issues, yet, it doesn’t need to be our sole experience in technology. We should also occasionally remove our blinders and see the big picture. We have miniature computers in our pockets that wirelessly access an interconnected network that spans the entire world – that’s fucking amazing! If I went back in time and gave my ten year old self an iPhone, I think his head would explode. We should appreciate how truly advanced things have become and try to recapture a least a little of that sense of joy in technology we all had as children.