In my personal life: I live 500 miles closer to my boyfriend now than I did for the first 6 months of our relationship. Currently we are only a mere 1000 miles away from one another. I say this with just a touch of annoyance at the situation. However, what is obvious to us both, is that without text messaging and multi-media messaging we would not have been as successful at maintaining our relationship to the level we have thus far. Sometimes it is scary to admit just how much we rely on the technology to keep us close. Daily we send 20, 30 or 40-plus messages back and forth. I send pictures of my dog, the view from a walk I'm on, a new purchase I have made and I receive pictures of my nephew (they live in the same town), a strange news headline or something he know will make me laugh.
Without these messages there would be many times when the 2 of us could not communicate for days at a time. These messages have helped to give us the closest thing possible to a normal relationship. Of course there are those endless hours on the phone too...
At school: when I came back to graduate school after just a few years away from the world of academia, it was whole different world of research and communication. Where before the use of email to communicate with professors would have been considered taboo and much too informal for student-professor dialogues, it was now encouraged and promoted as the main way to get in touch with professors. The telephone was scorned as a way to connect to your professors and office hours gained less importance than before because of the ease with which professors could respond to student questions in the email formatting.
In addition, research no longer required that I travel the 45 minutes to school, instead, I could log onto the university website, locate an article and download it to my own computer, whether or not to print a hard copy was up to me. Eventhough I come from a generation that has always done much of its research through computers, I was amazed at how that technology had been refined and perfected in the few years I was away from academia.
In my work: when I think about how technology has affected my work, I have to believe that the technological advance that has most affected me in every job I have had since after high school would have to be the use of email. The fact that I can communicate with my boss, at whichever job, from home and at the times which work the best for me has made email both a great gift and a horrible curse, especially when email came to my cell phone. I am never truly away from email and this allows me to be notified of problems and situations almost immediatley and often I am able to put out fires before or shortly after they begin. Without email my response time would be greatly diminished. With email I have annoyed more than a couple friends and family members by my inability to ignore the chiming of the blackberry coming from my purse or pocket. I sometimes wish I could stop myself before I pull out the phone, look down and realize that I have jumped inside an email while the person right in front of me has continued to talk. I have said far too many times: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ignore you but I just got an email." As if that is an acceptable excuse for ignoring the person who is right there in your presence.
As a child: I would say the technology that most affected me as a child would be the telephone. I see it now as a foreshadowing of my current attachment to my blackberry. I remember my first telephone was shaped like Garfield the cat and I spent hours of my life talking on the phone to friends who usually lived within a couple of miles. It was something which I loved to do and because the telephone is decided for talking, something which I have always had an addiction to, it seems only natural now that I would be in a situation where in order to feel connected to my boyfriend, I often fall asleep with that little technological lifeline clutched in my hand: the blackberry.