Things to Be Thankful For, Technology Edition
You know the scene. The family is gathered, the turkey is carved, the sweet potatoes are mere inches from your fork and have no idea of the fate that is about to befall them. Then someone pipes up: “I think we ought to go around the table and say what we’re thankful for.”
What are you going to say? You’re hipster enough that you would rather die than spout a cliche like “my health” or “my job” or “this food”; that’s a given, surely — of course we’re all thankful for such things. But you’re also enough of a geek that you fear saying what you’re really thankful for; reeling off the specs of that awesome phone you just bought would be met with blank stares.
Fear not, we’ve got your back. If you find yourself fumbling for words in front of the family, try something like this:
I’m thankful that we get to live in a golden age where every piece of knowledge you can imagine, the greatest library in history, is available at all times to everyone. I’m thankful that roughly 50% of this country now carries supercomputers everywhere, and that we don’t even think it’s a big deal any more. I’m not necessarily thankful that work can reach me anywhere, but I am thankful that I can theoretically do nearly all my work from anywhere.
I’m thankful that I have creative tools in my pocket that would make Leonardo da Vinci weep, and I’m thankful that I occasionally have the wit to use them, rather than just sitting back and letting the content come to me.
I’m thankful that I can freely express any opinion in any one of a thousand forums, instantly, globally. I’m thankful for my Twitter followers and for those I’m following, and that they labor all day to keep me amused and informed without receiving a single penny in compensation. I’m thankful for my Facebook friends, who help and encourage and cajole and tease and share and point me towards the light when I’m in a dark place.
I’m thankful for Instagram, and for the fact that there are a million artfully filtered pictures of everyone’s turkey dinner being posted to phones across America right now.
I’m thankful for the iPhone, I’m thankful for Android, I’m thankful they made a decent Windows Phone, and I’m thankful that there is real competition between them. I’m really thankful we won’t see a repeat of the Microsoft monopoly of the 1990s. I’m thankful that the Galaxy SIII recently became the most popular smartphone; maybe it’ll spur Apple to make an even more innovative iPhone 5S.
I’m thankful that they’re fixing Siri and Maps, and I’m thankful that I was actually able to navigate my way here today. [Pause for laughter.]
I’m thankful for e-books. I’m thankful for the fact that I’m reading more than ever because of them, despite the naysayers who claim technology is dumbing us down. I’m thankful that tablets single-handedly saved the comics business. I’m thankful that artists have so many channels to distribute their content without the middlemen, so those middlemen can go off and become artists themselves.
I’d like to thank Netflix and Hulu for being there to cuddle up in bed with when I’m sick. I’m thankful that there are more great games available than I can ever hope to play in a lifetime, and that they cost 99 cents each rather than $50. I’m thankful that when I think of a song, any song, I can be listening to it seconds later. I’m thankful that everyone gets to be a DJ now. Well, sometimes I’m not thankful for that.
I’m over the moon at the fact that NASA successfully put a rover the size of a truck on Mars earlier this year, and that it’s tweeting photos, and that it may have found something unprecedented on the surface. I’m thankful that math and science education is ramping up, even if it isn’t yet where it needs to be. I’m thankful for numbers, and for Nate Silver.
I’m thankful for memes that let me feel like everyone on the planet is in on the same joke. I’m thankful for LOLCats, who never fail to perform as advertised; they may actually be making us smarter too. I’m thankful that when a bus monitor gets harassed by kids and it gets caught on video, the Internet clubs together to shame the bullies and give her a $500,000 vacation. Thank you, Reddit and YouTube.
I may even still be thankful for Gangnam Style, though ask me again in a few months.
Most of all, I’m thankful that anything we might decide to argue about over this dinner can be settled with a simple search. And I’m thankful that any time I get tired of my real family, I can go take a quick time out with my Internet family, and because of that break I can come back and be once again grateful for your presence, your proximity, your warmth.
Now pass the damn potatoes. I’m starving.