Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


June 14, 2013

I have two laptops, one large and one small. I have a smartphone that is more powerful than both of them. It takes video and 14-megapixel photographs. It can tell me how to get from Atlantic City to New Delhi and how much traffic I'll hit on the way. It can scan items at the grocery store. It has more than 100 apps. And, if the wind is just right, it can make a phone call.

I have three plasma, HD, flat-screen televisions with more than 700 channels. I have a Slingbox, a DVR, a DVD player, and a VCR. I have lightning-fast Internet and fiber-optic cable. For some reason, I still have a landline.

I Tumbl, Tweet, Facebook, and Wordpress.

I have an e-reader, a tablet, and a mini-tablet. I have a stack of old laptops in the corner of my closet, gathering dust like old journals. I have 10 digital cameras, now as useless and quaint as a Sony Walkman. I no longer remember owning a watch.

I have 20 user names, 10 passwords I can't remember, and 15 security questions, including "What was the brand of your first cellphone?"

I have four e-mail addresses. I get e-mails from the president, from rich African bankers, from supermarkets, from every website I've ever purchased anything from, and from people I've never met who think I'm kinda cute.

I have an online bank account that pays for my cellphone, Internet, cable, NBA TV, landline, music subscription service, apps, five online newspaper subscriptions, and Netflix. It tells me at the end of every month that I'm broke.

My guess is that many people in the modern world have a list like this one. Looking at it in its entirety makes me realize that these objects supposedly designed to make our lives easier, to democratize media consumption and production, have become incredible burdens.

We already have to maintain our homes, our jobs and money, and our relationships. And now we have to maintain an ever-increasing list of devices and information.

We once used media to escape the realities of our daily lives. Now it seems our reality is shaped and controlled by our devices and the content they deliver to us 24 hours a day.

Media and technology have come a long way since Caesar's Acta Diurna were carved in tablets and posted in Rome around 100 B.C. They've come a long way since last year. But for media and technology to make our lives better, we need to take a hard look at how much of our lives they control and how much time, energy, and money they consume.

After I wrote the above list, I realized that too many of my valuable resources have been taken over by media and devices. So this summer, my goal is to create a new list, one that will add to my life instead of taking away from it.

Here's a start: the beach; friends; family; the dog; Madame Bovary; fishing.

I feel better already. - Nate House,