Yesterday the SD card in my phone went bad for whatever reason. I had to format it, which took care of the problem but means that I lost all of the pictures and music that were on my phone, not to mention the few apps that were on there. It’s not like these things can’t be replaced. (Except the pictures, but let’s just say my phone is perfect for a guy who takes terrible pictures anyway.) But I found myself putting it off for a while, because I didn’t want to have to “break in” my phone again. You know how a new pair of jeans or a ballcap needs to be worn a while to get good and comfy? Formatting my SD card was like washing that old canvas hat that was soaked in sweat stains. It’s all clean now, but I now have to spend the effort to get it just the way I like it.
I have never really thought of my relationship with technology in these terms before, but it’s quite apt. Every new gadget needs a good lead-in time so we can mold it to what we like. A while ago at work my laptop needed to be formatted, and I’m still finding little programs that I use occasionally that I need to re-install. Of course, developers have started to realize that we’re becoming less attached to our individual machines and more attached to what we store in them. When we bought our laptop a year or two ago I spent a ton of time putting music on it from my cloud drive on Amazon. That’s something that wasn’t really possible five years ago, or at least not practical.
This idea of bending technology to our needs is an interesting one to me. It’s not that we’re just using it as a tool, it’s treated as something we are comfortable with. We’re like a cat who mashes down the lumps in a blanket to get it just right. It’s a personal thing, because we all have our own preferences. It’s even a little intimate, because we feel betrayed when anything intrudes into what we have made. My Firefox recently started using Ask.com as its search engine when I entered terms into the browser. I fixed it and all, but I was unreasonably irritated at the whole thing, something that literally took me 15 seconds to correct.
I don’t know exactly what this says. We like to say that we’re owned by our technology, and I suppose that’s true. But that’s been true of every technology ever. It’s not like people still relied on suits of armor after gunpowder was invented. Rather, I’m more fascinated at how personal this technology is getting, how we fine-tune it to our own whims and needs. That used to be something that you needed a professional to do, but we’re at the point where we do it ourselves routinely. We rely on technology, but the human element is so thoroughly part of the process now. We’re all sculptors in this regard, and I might be crazy for finding a little bit of poetry in that. But it’s pretty amazing to me, even if you may have all noticed it already.