What is Essential in Your Life?
As I write this, the city is in the third week of the social-distancing quarantine resulting from the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Our mayor has just announced that all non-essential businesses should close this morning and remain closed through the duration of the quarantine. As a member of the construction trade, our business has been classified as “essential” by the governor, so we can remain open as long as we have contractors and builders who need us to complete projects for them. But the announcement made me think – what exactly is essential in my home, particularly with respect to technology? (This is a technology blog, after all!)
Technology vs. Utilities
Also, as I write this, my in-laws have just had lengthy and costly repairs made to their home gas piping system. In their home the gas provides hot water, heat and fuel for cooking. Even they didn’t realize how essential it was until it was gone, as they waited for several days for repairs to be completed. Sure, they could still use their technology – the Internet, the TV, etc. But it’s hard to have the Internet cook your dinner or provide you with a hot shower!
Convenience vs. Necessity
At our company, much of what we install for people in their homes amounts to convenience and lifestyle improvements. We put in motorized shades so you don’t have to go around to 20 windows every day, raising and lowering the window coverings. We install automated audio and video systems so you don’t have to remember how to use the six different remotes on your coffee table. But are these things essential? Probably not, unless someone is not physically able to do some of these things.
So, you might be concluding by now that technology really isn’t essential in a home. Frankly, I can defend the argument either way. But one thing I will adamantly defend is the ability of technology to enrich and enhance our lives, as I’ll discuss more below.
One technology that is fairly easy to defend as essential is the Internet. It’s only been truly useful for 30 years or so, but society has come to completely rely on it. During times like these we rely on technology to give us information. What are the new rules? Who is open and who is closed? What are the recommended guidelines? Etc. etc. Without this constant and open flow of information and data from the Internet, we would feel lost. Technology is definitely essential in this case.
But what about something less obvious, like the audio and video systems in our homes? I would also argue that those too are essential. One of my most favorite things to do on this earth is to sit down and listen to music with nothing else going on. It is my form of meditation and relaxation. It is why I got into this business. It is essential to me! …Similarly, last night my wife and I watched a movie. With the lights down and the volume up, we quickly became immersed in the movie and all of our worries during these troubled times completely faded away for at least a couple hours. Essential to life? No. But essential to keeping one’s sanity and maintaining a positive outlook – absolutely!
Some forms of technology are obviously essential – phones and the Internet to name a couple. But other, seemingly less-important ones, like a system that allows you to listen to your favorite music or watch the latest movie, can also be just as essential, but for different reasons. As humans, we need certain things like sunlight, food and water to survive. But we need music, movies and the arts to live.