Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Technology...The New Gated Community
"We live in a gated community," the up-and-coming couple reports.
"Congratulations!" I say, reacting the only way I know how.
Living by stereotypes...I know what this means. They have arrived. They have accumulated the resources to live in an expensive house with at least a gate for a guard at the entrance of the neighborhood. I suppose I could be wrong, and the gate could be surrounding the local mobile-home park, but I doubt it. The gated communities that I know have large houses, plush yards, evidence of workers (i.e. gardeners and housekeepers) and name-brand cars rolling in and out of the garages. It's a lovely place to call home. There is a sense of security with that gate, keeping in all that is precious and keeping out all that is unwanted.
My husband and I are slowly accumulating resources... (children seem to suck out faster than we can put in) but I don't know that we'll ever be in the tax-bracket that would allow us to live in one of those gated communities. That's okay. We'll find a way to live comfortably and we'll continue to provide what opportunities we can for our children. I am anxious, though. There is another gated community being built. It's a community to which I sense my children need to belong, and I don't want to be on the outside looking in.
The pace with which technology is exploding is mind-boggling. I grew up playing PONG on Atari, and my oldest just saved up his money to buy himself an Ipod touch. The capabilities of his new hand-held device far outweigh the things our first desktop computer could do. The advances in smart technology are overwhelming at times.
We spent last Saturday roaming around downtown Chicago and we wandered in to the Apple Store. It was an experience worth having. The store itself is beautiful, and the access to their machines is impressive. There were nearly 100 Ipads laying around on tables so that people could experiment with them and see what they could do. I instantly wanted one. They are beyond cool.
When we left the store and continued down the Michigan Avenue sidewalks, it struck me, as I avoided eye contact with the begging homeless, that except for the access available in that store, there is a segment of the population who will never own something like an Ipad. The percentage of people around the world who will never know what it is to touch a screen and watch it pop to life is too small to fathom. Technology-savvy people are starting to have their own sub-culture and language and life experiences. Some people in the world will never know any of that.
I recognize the blessings I have been afforded simply because I was born in a country that has the opportunities we do. I have worked hard to be admitted into the technology gated community, and barring any disaster, I plan to stay there, but I can't help thinking about the faces on the other side of the gate...the longing faces who want nothing more than a chance to come inside.