November 13, 2000

Technology not all its clicked up to be

Josh Renaud

I'm a technology lover. I love computers, I love designing websites, and I love learning about new gadgets.

But I'm also "anti-pager" and "anti-cell-phone." To some, it's a paradox, but I don't see it that way.

After all, my computer doesn't follow me around to work or to the movies or to class. It can't grind its hard drive or beep an error message at me if I'm not there.

Pagers and cell phones are attachments. They clip onto your belt or live in your pocket, giving the entire world access to you whenever it wants. That scares me, and it is for that reason I vowed never to get one.

But I broke down and got a pager. I am, after all, the editor of the paper, and sometimes things happen and staff members might need to get in touch.

Over the week or so that I've had the pager, I've been working on justifying it, trying to find ways to compensate for breaking my own principles. This pager, after all, is free, one of the small perks of the job. And the pager isn't a cell phone. Nobody actually calls me. I can choose to ignore a page and not return it.

Still, in the back of my mind something is screaming "Beware!" I think part of me is concerned that yielding to the pager will inevitably mean yielding to the cell phone and whatever other "personal communications" technologies are developed in the future.

I'm also afraid I'll become one of "them." You know who I'm talking about. You're sitting in a class, say "Introduction to Cinema," watching a black and white Alfred Hitchcock movie, when somebody's phone starts ringing. At first, no one is sure whose phone it is. Everyone checks their bags, as the phone continues ringing. Finally, the guilty party finds the ringing phone and answers it. Often this person will look embarrassed and head out the door quickly. Other times, they'll just talk with the person on the phone, frustrating the people around them.

What if I forget to turn off the beep? I've tested the various beeps on this pager, and they are all loud. There's no way to control the volume that I've been able to find. How would I react?

I know I'm making too much of a little thing. I have a tendency to do that. But I take solace in the fact that nobody has actually paged me yet. And I'll probably make too much of a little thing when I get my first page. Much as I hate to admit it, it will probably be exciting.

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