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Apple TV: Friend or Foe?
January 26th, 2011

There have been many times in my marriage when I’ve stopped to appreciate the fact that GAP is not a technology junkie. He is certainly a fan of a flat screen television and surround sound. But he is not the type to be constantly upgrading to newer equipment just because it’s available. However, for his recent birthday I took the plunge on his behalf and got him AppleTV.

Since we installed it we have been amazed at the ease of use and instantaneous access to a huge variety of video content. No trips to Blockbuster (ahh, the olden days). No waiting for DVDs to show up in our mailbox. No scanning the DVR to see if there’s anything stashed that might be worth watching. All of this content is available to us with the click of a tiny aluminum remote control. It really is incredible.

GAP and I, however, can’t leave well enough alone. We have to go and wax philosophical about these things. Which is why he said to me last weekend, “Think about how isolating this kind of technology could be.”

Wow. Talk about a buzz kill…

The thing is, though, he’s right. What if you were single and shy? And what if you worked from home? And what if you lived in Manhattan (or some other big city) and could have anything you want delivered right to your door? You could easily live a quite contented existence without ever leaving your home.

I have long sung the praises of doing things alone. In fact, I get a little soapbox-y about it. I think it is a fantastically valuable life skill to be comfortable doing things alone – going to movies or the theatre, going to a sporting event, sitting in a restaurant, traveling, and so on. I really believe that there is much we miss in life if we require a companion for everything. So naturally, when GAP made this statement to me, my wheels went into overdrive. I started thinking about people who may recoil into themselves because they never have to leave the house again. They will lose all of their social skills. We will become a nation of hermits. … I went a bit far afield with it, truth be told.

Then GAP said, “But think about shut-ins. Think about elderly people who literally can’t get out to a movie. Think about how this kind of technology actually connects those people to the world, rather than segregating them from it.” And then, in the span of less than three minutes he was right again. (It can get irritating when he does this.)

In today’s world I’m sure that AppleTV is well beyond the technological capabilities of the nursing home set. But in 10 or 15 years it won’t be. By then our nation’s elderly will be well versed in the internet, video streaming, and on-demand functionality. And when their grandkids come bounding in buzzing about the latest blockbuster, perhaps Grandmother and Granddad will be able to chime right in.

Like everything else in this world, with freedom and privilege comes responsibility. We create new tools and toys faster than we learn how to incorporate them into our culture. With each new advancement we take risks. But we also reap rewards. We must take care not to paint new developments with the brush of “good” or “bad” before we really understand their ramifications. We must wade into these waters carefully.  But at least in the meantime we can enjoy a good movie.

5 Responses to “Apple TV: Friend or Foe?”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    I have to smile at your “buzz kill.” But the fact is, some of these technologies really are sanity-savers. While I don’t yet qualify as elderly, I am somewhat of a “shut-in” in part by circumstances, and I do work from home. My schedule is so jam-packed that technology is surely more than a convenience. It is, as I said, a sanity saver.

    No nifty Apple TV in this household. Nonetheless, the technology we do have feels vital.

  2. Cathy @ All I Want To Say Says:

    Since entering this blog world, a thought constantly circling my head is that it must be such a wonderful gift especially for stay-at-home moms. Let’s face it, with little ones, time is tight and the weather is uncooperative and heading outdoors is not an option. I think back to 100 years ago and those folks who lived in rural areas. Can you imagine being a mother of 2, 3, 4 kids in rural Kansas (or where ever really) and being completely isolated. Yikes. That would be insanity.

  3. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    “with freedom and privilege comes responsibility…” Indeed. Truth be told, we could immerse ourselves in anything and cut ourselves off from the rest of the world. It doesn’t have to be technology. We could stay home and read books without setting foot into the world… We must temper our hobbies, our likes, our indulgences with exposure to the real world, to nature, to others in this game of life. Great post.

  4. ayala Says:

    Great post! We take risks and we reap rewards,I agree. I also agree with Aidan…we must temper our hobbies….

  5. Gale Says:

    Aidan – You’re absolutely right. We can pull away from the world just as easily without technology as with it. Although I do think people are slightly more likely to accommodate any reclusive tendencies with television/internet than with books. I’m not really basing that on anything; it’s just a hunch. Either way, though, we should temper ourselves and our interests.