Geek in Gear: A reflection on technology dependence

We have reached the end of times.

Gmail broke on Friday. For, like, a full hour. And the Internet panicked.

All right, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it was fairly entertaining to watch all the fun tweets on Twitter. Like, wow. There are really a lot of people who depend on this technology.

And on that current trending topic of depending on technology, let’s talk about my smartphone. My Samsung Galaxy SIII had 9 percent battery life left by the time I got home on Saturday night. I hadn’t charged it fully before leaving the house, and I’d left the cord for my car charger in my bag. It probably doesn’t help that my phone’s battery sucks after too many nights leaving it plugged in.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But today, I’d had to closely monitor my phone usage to make sure I didn’t run out of juice before I made it home, since I was at a crowded event in an unfamiliar area.

It was in the car on my way home, hoping that listening to my playlist wouldn’t kill my phone in case I needed to GPS my way out of a back road, when I realized . . . I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have a smartphone.

Such a time for me wasn’t even that long ago. My SIII is my first smartphone. I got it two Novembers ago. It hasn’t even been a year and a half that I’ve had this phone, and already it’s become so incorporated in my life that using it is automatic. Need to find an address? Google Maps it. Need to check product reviews while at the store? Pop up the browser. Need to check my email? An easier task there is not.

Could I manage without my smartphone? Yes. I really think I could. But do I want to? No. Not really.

Unfortunately, though, I really think there are a lot of people who wouldn’t be the same. Sure, many of us are old enough to remember not having a cell phone, let alone a smartphone. I remember the days in freshman year of high school when it was so great that I got to take my mom’s brick of a cell phone. And by brick, I mean it was pretty much the size and weight of one of those handhelds we used to use for land lines.

However, as I and the generations near me get older, we’re seeing all these kids with iPhones before they’ve even hit kindergarten. It really concerns me. What’s going to happen to these kids if they ever find themselves in a crazy situation without technology? What will they do if their battery dies and they’re somewhere unfamiliar with unfamiliar people, and they have to find their own ways home?

You know what, I’m probably overthinking it. Maybe kids these days are smarter than they look. But having teen cashiers unable to check you out during a power outage because they can’t do math in their head to give you change does make you worry a little about how much technology is spoiling us . . . or rather, how much we’re spoiling ourselves.

Technology is a worthwhile convenience. I love my smartphone. I love my Gmail. We just can’t be teaching entire generations to be dependent on it.