I remember receiving my first story book when I was 5. I remember how that big smile stayed on my face for days and weeks as I immersed myself in my first book, fancying over the colourful pictures of princesses and princes, castles, dragons and witches, and attempting hard to finish one page after another as I practice my reading skills.
I remember my grandmother reading my first book to me. I exhausted her almost every night just to tell that very same story before bed time. I remember how the dear princess in my book fly with me in my dreams, how I fought with the brave prince against the old witch with her orange dragon inside that enormous castle. I would give everything to have those dreams again.
I remember sharing my book with my classmates and friends in school. I was their story teller. There were times when I even brought costumes to school to enchant and entertain my friends during our storytelling time. I remember being the reason why they all begged their parents to buy them their own story books.
I remember receiving my first laptop exactly three years ago. That ended my daily sessions with the big, dusty, and slow family computer at home. I thanked my parents for the gift of portable convenience that came with the new gadget.
I remember surfing the internet using my new laptop. I thanked the heavens for how fast, comfortable, and easy the gadget works.
I remember using the new gadget in the university. It helped well to finish our group project especially with the free internet access in the campus made possible because of the TOFI.
But I never remember being as happy and contented when I had the laptop as I was when I received my first book 13 years ago. I was grateful for receiving the two gifts, of course. Yet I cannot help but compare the disparity in the experiences of having received them.
I used to believe I had had varying experiences receiving the book and the laptop because I had received the gifts at two different times. A book when I was 5 and a laptop when I was 15. It is one “Anne” who had the story book, and another “Anne” who received the laptop. My dreams when I was 5 are not my desires when I was 15. My needs in the preparatory school are not the same with my necessities in college. I thought of these arguments as clear explanation for the dissimilar experience and happiness in having received my first book and my first laptop.
But is this explanation valid? Is this really the case? As I now realize, the varying age, time, desires, and needs undoubtedly contributed to the two different experiences. However, the primary reason of the difference is a simple fact which I failed to recognize early—I received two different gifts. When I had my dear book, I received the gift of simple yet incomparable happiness. When I had the laptop, I received the gift of convenient and effective technology.
The gift of technology. A sweet and bitter gift, I would say. Sweet as it expands your world and makes everything else in it unimaginably easier, faster, and more convenient. It is effective, competent, and useful. But with this gift comes its curse. Technology seems to reduce work and simplify almost every task to the extent that it actually complicates things. It takes away the undemanding, the simple and the raw experience of life and replaces it with the enhanced, the more advanced, and the seemingly finer way of living.
Several years ago, when I only had my books, I was happily satisfied with life. When computers, mobile phones, gadgets, and the internet came, life became simply effortless yet complexly problematic. This is what I have to say about technology as far as my experience is concerned. Things may work differently in your case.
I would like to further discuss my take on technology, specifically on the internet, its gifts and curses, in the following blog on Bill Gate’s Shaping the Internet Age.
But for the moment, I only have one thing to say—The simple, priceless story book received by a five-year-old from her grandma will eternally remain as the best of her firsts.