Virtual Voices

Can you hear me now?

Technology

I have finally touched an iPad . . . and I don't want one. I thought I might: I lost portable Internet capability about 20 months ago, and while I don't regret at all our decision to get a iMac desktop instead, I've missed not being able to check email on the road or write columns like these on the couch.

As I'm going to be doing a little bit of traveling this year, my husband wondered if I might like Apple's newest toy, but when friends brought theirs over the other night, it confirmed what I'd been thinking all this time: It's not for me.

I'm not really all that into portable technology anyway. I got my first cell phone two years ago so that I could contact someone if I absolutely had to (it's a "pay as you go" phone and I don't give the number out very often), but I forget that I have it most of the time.

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My decision to not carry a device that enables anyone to reach me at any time has not been a popular one. In fact, many have questioned my sanity, including (but not limited to) friends, family, doctor's offices, and the sales people at AT&T.

But I really don't want the capacity to check-in with the digital world 24 hours a day. The truth is this: I'm on the computer enough as it is.

There. I said it. Between the reasons I really need to be on the computer, combined with all the reasons I don't, I admit that I'm on this thing far too much already.

I see other moms and dads on their iPhones or BlackBerrys or what-have-yous while at the park or in a Bible Study or during a group meeting, and while they are physically present with their kids or their friends, their activity suggests their minds are elsewhere.

We've had dinner with others and watched in surprise while, in the middle of a conversation, they glanced down to check the latest text that came in . . . and even quickly responded to it. Something about that activity suggests a profound lack of respect for the people you are with. (My husband forbids us from answering the phone when we sit down to dinner for that very reason.)

I know myself well enough to know that if I had the capacity to check email and such on the go as much as I wanted to, I would; because of my tendencies, therefore, I'm choosing not to go there.

So I'm letting the iPad go the way of the iPhone: I wish it well, and I might enjoy playing with someone else's on occasion. But as for me and my house, we'll keep our landline.

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