My five mind habits:
- Communication: Everything is instant. I assume if I haven’t gotten a response back within a certain amount of time (depending on the method of communication) that I will not receive a message back at all. It’s not that I will not receive a reply in a longer time than these intervals; I am just surprised when I do. For a text message this is about fifteen minutes, for a missed phone call about an hour and for an email one day. In the case of a delayed reply, I will obsessively check my inbox/phone for whether I have received a reply, as if my mind cannot move on until I do.
- Planning: Everything is last minute. If I want to see someone that day, I text or call and the plans are made. The more casual the interaction, the less time beforehand the plans are made, and always electronically. The maximum time plans are made beforehand is about tow weeks, and this is for a large party (for which invites are sent via Facebook). However, these electronic invitations have created an interesting mind-habit: doubt about the real number of people attending. This is more and more true for larger and larger groups. This is caused by the anonymity of the mass text and Facebook invites, where you can respond with “maybe” or not at all without feeling rude.
- Travel: Everything takes forever. Even with the use of cars and planes, the speed of long-distance travel has not changed in decades, whereas the speed of communication has rocketed forward in recent years. In the days of endless airport security lines, I have often felt myself yearning for instantaneous travel that is as quick as email. Now, this may be simply natural human impatience, but I find that these yearnings are tied to technology in my mind. With so much being instant in our world, long-distance seems impossibly slow.
- Meeting new people: the Facebook stalk. The second you meet a person of interest, you Google them. In middle school, we used to check last year’s yearbook for interesting tidbits, which is so far less revealing than a Facebook page. You can learn whether or not a person is single, how old they are, where they work, where they go to/went to school, and if they have any damning quirks, all before having a real human interaction with them. A recent episode of How I Met Your Mother called “Mystery vs. History” outlined this strange new conundrum in terms of the dating world, where all the mystery can be Googled away once you know the person’s full name. Google and Facebook have caused an expectation of instant and full knowledge of a person. I know that when I was first getting to know my boyfriend before we were dating, his lack of a Facebook page was very infuriating. I ended up Googling his name just to satisfy my appetite for insider facts. This is the new mind habit—the expectation of little privacy.
- Studying: the Wikipedia/Sparknotes effect. The first thing I do when studying is look up the topic on the internet. Instead of pouring through textbooks and assigned readings again before a test or big assignment, I look it up. The best way I’ve found to frame the way I study is to find the topics that other people think are important and focus on those. This is not a perfect system, however, and has backfired for me on a couple exams. However, it is always effective at one thing: settling the nerves. The mind-habit at play here is again the quest for instantaneous information. I want to know the key topics so I can do well, but I do not want to spend hours re-reading to get to that point. In a way, I think studying has suffered the most in the new world of technology, as it has instilled an impatience detrimental to the effectiveness of test preparation. Whereas research has become faster and more expansive (in good and bad ways—but if you know the type of source to look for, the internet is still faster that a library), good study habits have, perhaps, begun to erode.
In writing this, there is one very clear answer for the area I want technology to leap forward in: travel. After flying twelve hours to get from Portland to Beijing last year, airplane travel has truly lost its appeal for me. Airports are crowded, there is a strong possibility that security will grope you, you have to get to the airport at least an hour early, the plane air is always dirty, and the plane seats are impossibly small. In the end, ever since 9/11, airplane travel has simply lost its charm. Although airplane travel for the masses was truly an amazing innovation, it’s time to again leap forward. The Star Trek transporter is, of course, the ideal. Just the though of instantaneous, safe travel to anywhere around the world is so exciting. But how would the arrival of science fiction transporters affect the world? Once widespread, it would mean the elimination of automobiles and airplanes, at least for civilians. The military outcomes would be vast and, in a way, unknowable. Would warheads be beamed to other countries instead of being flown and dropped? Would you need a password, or several passwords to beam to certain locations? Would hacking/cracking these transports be the new computer hack? No matter what, the introduction of these transporters would completely change the way we see the world, and the way we travel it.