In the Community
There’s An App for ThatJanuary 14, 2015
Now that January has arrived, many of us are learning to use the new technologies that may have been gifts of the season. The cell phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops and flat screen TVs (I guess ALL TVs are flat screened these days, except for the one in my own living room) have been unwrapped, squealed over, and taken to new levels of usefulness. Is it a tool or a toy? Either way, for many of us, they have taken over our lives.
I love the new technologies as much as the next person. I upgraded my smart phone recently, and believe it or not, it not only saves me time, but money as well. And because of my amazing MacBook Air, I was able to work from NYC when I visited my daughter and son-in-law for three weeks on the occasion of the birth of my granddaughter. I downloaded some new apps while I was there as well; there is even one for tracking the baby’s milk consumption and frequency of diaper changes. Who knew?
I confess to also feeling some sadness over the technologies. I wish I would have counted how many times in the past few months I saw people sitting across from each other in a restaurant, having their meal and reading or texting on their smart phone, rather than carrying on a conversation. Really? And the strange sounds that come from suit jackets and purses during concerts, sermons and business meetings have become almost the rule rather than the exception.
The more often I hear people say, “There’s an app for that,” the more I think perhaps there are other “apps” we should consider.
For example, I am appalled when I consider the widening technology gap that exists between those in poverty and others, and how this creates a widening education and employment gap. Contributing to causes that assist young people and unemployed people to have access to--and learn to use--these technologies can help.
I am concerned when the apparatus becomes an appendage, and it interferes with actual conversation, communication, and relationship-building. This hurts families, friendships, and support systems. It interferes with getting to know our neighbors and understanding the value of the diversity of our community. And this, of course, interferes with community-building—something of great importance to us at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
I am saddened by the appetites unsatisfied, the frayed and thinning apparel, and the out-of-commission appliances in the lives of those in poverty, while the lines outside of the Apple Stores get longer and longer. One of my resolutions for the New Year is that I will give to a charitable cause at least the same amount I invest in new technologies—on top of my normal charitable budget. (If I do purchase a flat screened TV, I’d better plan to double the cost.) And each time I consider downloading a new app, I must reflect on the time spent using it, and whether that time might be better spent volunteering. I would encourage you to look at Lowcountry Volunteer Connections on our Website, and find some important volunteer work to do as well.
It is apparent that too many cannot afford an appointment with a physician, dentist, or optometrist, though they may be badly needed. I applaud all who contribute to causes that can help in these areas for those in poverty, such as the Johnson Medical Assistance Fund, or the Volunteers in Medicine Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, and to the various other local organizations that serve this population.
As I appraise the needs of so many of our Lowcountry communities, I offer an appeal to all who read this: Resolve, in the year ahead, to remember those less fortunate each time you approach one of the amazing technological devices in your home or office. And in remembering, appreciate not only what you have, but also the many who have so much less. Live generously. Choose a cause; write a check; make a gift of stock; use your charge card. It’s as easy as apple pie!
Denise K. Spencer
President and CEO
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry