Love it or hate it

Technologies are funny things. Some make life easier, some make it harder, and some do both.

Every technology has its fans and foes, and the relative benefits and costs of each new whiz-bang gadget or techno-fix are very much in the eye of the beholder. Accordingly, Xpress hit the streets of Asheville. Here’s what eight randomly selected people had to say about their most- and least-favorite gizmos.

Amanda Berk
Favorite technology:“My calculator watch. Because I use it at work, I get a lot of compliments for it. And it’s wonderful when you think something is going to be too goofy, but people actually approve.”
Least favorite: “A Web site called It’s the weirdest thing ever—it’s kind of like The Sims. It’s creepy that people take it so seriously that they start to confuse it with real life.”

Brent Appling
Favorite technology: “The iPod, because it’s so powerful. I’m carrying around my entire music collection in a little box.”
Least favorite: “The cell phone. It’s isolating the individual from society. I work in a record store, and 90 percent of our customers come in talking on the phone. It’s nearly impossible to help someone when they’re talking to someone else. I do have one, and they’re almost necessary. But I think we’d all be better off if we’d just left that one alone.”

Amy Daniel
Favorite technology: “Computers. I’m a teacher, but when I went to school, we didn’t have computers. At first I was afraid of them, and I still have to go to the younger teachers for help with how to use them, but I’m not afraid of them now. They help in so many ways. I get to cut and paste lesson plans that I used to have to handwrite every time.”
Least favorite: “We have a Prometheus board in the classroom—a projector that shows the class what’s on my computer screen. It’s a nice idea, but the thing is, it usually doesn’t work, and we waste all this time trying to get it to. Sometimes I just wish we were using a dry-erase board; sometimes we’ve got too much technology.”

Mollie Handley
Favorite technology: “E-mail. I run my own retail business, an art gallery, and it eliminates a lot of talking on the phone and makes it easy to make contact with people.”
Least favorite: “I hate my cell phone; I never answer it. I’m not a phone person anyway, and I think the whole cell-phone concept has gotten out of hand, with people using it in cars, stores and my gallery. That irritates the crap out of me.”

Bob Garew
Favorite technology: “Cell phones. Nowadays it’s a must-have thing. You can do anything with it: get on the Web, e-mail, send pictures. Sometimes I do like to be without it. Like today, I’m out riding my bike, so I left the phone at home.”
Least favorite: “I don’t really watch TV. If I watch it once a week, that’s a lot for me. There’s no good news on it anymore. I know some people are glued to the bad news, but it’s all too depressing for me to watch.”

Ginger Hollifield
Favorite technology: “The Internet. You can learn anything you want to on it. I use it for everything: places to go, things to do, things I want to know, whatever.”
Least favorite: “TV—the fact that they put anything and everything on there. It’s too much bad stuff; too much negativity. I don’t even have cable.”

John O’Brien
Favorite technology: “I’d say the Internet. It’s like having information at your fingertips. You can come up with anything. I’m a big fan of sports and racing, and I get all the latest information on those this way. There’s no reason for me not to be informed about something, because whatever it is, you can find it on the Internet.”
Least favorite: “Also the Internet, because of all the negative things that can happen with it, like sexual predators using it to get at kids. Kids should be protected from that. And if I’m some kind of sicko, I can go online and find out how to make bombs in my basement. The Internet is a double-edged sword.”

Roy Park
Favorite technology: “The iPod, because it helps me ignore the rest of the world all the time.”
Least favorite: “Cell phones, because I can’t get away. I can never, ever be anywhere by myself—you’re always connected, and it’s such an obligation to answer calls. You have to answer.”

About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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