Occasionally, I'll be working on my desktop computer and I'll try to move my mouse off the computer screen and click on my wall calendar. It's surprising how shocked I'll be for an instant when my cursor stops abruptly at the edge of the screen and I realize that my mouse isn't able to breach the electronic world and perform physical tasks. Whenever this happens, I have to stop and laugh at my expectations. I spend so much time on the computer that I forget there are limitations to my cyber powers.
Although most people probably don't try to move their mouse off the screen to perform tasks, I have noticed that I'm not the only one who thinks their electronic abilities will follow them off the tablet, smartphone or other touchscreen device. Lately, I've heard of people trying to find the time display on the top of physical books. (Do some people still read from actual books? I know, right.) Or tapping on a page of a book or newspaper in an attempt to conduct a search. Still others attempt to pinch-to-zoom printed text and images. My favorite is watching little kids who are accustomed to using their parents' tablets try to change the TV channel by swiping the screen. I'm sure there's even the occasional adult who forgets the limitations of a standard monitor and tries to use it like a touchscreen.
Perhaps laziness leads us to attempt these things. Who wants to take the time to reach for the desk calendar or the remote when they could be done with the swipe of a hand? Who wants to type – or handwrite – an entire paragraph of text when you could just hold your finger on the words and press copy and paste? If you're reading on an electronic device and you come across a word you don't recognize, instead of getting up from the sofa to grab a dictionary, you can – as they say – let your fingers do the walking and look up the meaning online. It's just so easy to use devices such as smartphones or tablets for so many tasks. Each one has an incredible number of functions – a camera, a GPS system, an alarm clock, a bathroom timewaster, a music player and an on-the-road babysitter.
Then again, maybe popular media's to blame more than habit or laziness. We expect that we can do certain things because we see technology's possibilities in movies such as "Minority Report," "The Avengers" and the newest Spider-Man. You can see how the characters interact with holographic data displays by moving them around with their hands. For instance, at the end of "The Avengers," Tony Stark picks up a holographic cube to study the information on it. The characters in these movies can pull data through the air from one location to another and manipulate it with their hands.
Although technology might not be this advanced yet, no doubt it'll catch up in the future. Then, instead of worrying about how foolish we look tapping our fingers on textbooks looking for the search tool, we'll have new activities and possibilities to become accustom to.
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