The last weekend of August marked my 31st birthday. Under the cooling night air I felt summer, like my youth, ebbing away, with a new phase yearning to take its place.
My long-time friend and I took a weekend road trip to New Bern, North Carolina. An odd place to take a trip, on paper, what with a population of approximately 30,000 and a downtown scene you might miss if you blink while passing through. I hadn’t been before, though, and I heard it had a beautiful marina. It did.
We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast hotel located near downtown. It was completely vacant, baroque, and managed by an elderly couple. I woke up on Saturday morning in that hotel to the sound of crisp, ethereal music emanating from the dining room.
I don’t know what music was playing. It was neoclassical sounding and included entrancing synths and electronics. The sound was as crisp as a bone-cutting razor’s edge, and beautiful enough to make me close my eyes to imagine the instruments playing. The dynamic range of every song made me feel like the instruments creating the music were strewn about the dining room around me.
“What type of sound system is that!?” I asked the hotel manager.
“That? It’s just an old stereo CD player,” he responded.
An old stereo CD player. How about that? I had listened to diluted mp3 music for so long that I forgot just how much added quality could come from a CD. It saddens me to think of all the incredible albums I’ve heard over the last decade via iTunes, and what I lost that the composer had wished I heard.
That’s technology in a nutshell, I believe. With every advancement comes the loss of something genuine. With the addition of iTunes, music arrives more conveniently, but we lose the ability to hear it. With the addition of texting, conversations happen more frequently, but we lose the ability to talk with one another. With the addition of social media, life events become more publicly available, but we lose the ability to experience our own lives.
Slowly, over time, our innovation has compromised our ability to love, to be human, to share, and to feel. I have gained copious amounts of convenience over the last decade. I’ve also lost some beautiful elements of humanity that I never knew I had.