seems to me that the more ‘inventive’ we get with the gadgets we develop…the more
we complicate our lives. Bear with me here. Twenty years ago, you had to actually
memorize phone numbers if you wanted to call someone. You had a ‘phone’ book where
you stored all of the numbers you used the most. From time to time you had to
update this book and more than likely you called old friends to check up on them
as you went through the updating process. This was especially noticeable during
the holiday season when you were making out your Christmas card list as well.
Not only would you get someone’s current address but you’d play catch up on their
lives over the past year.
All of that has gone by the wayside. Now you
store all of your numbers on your cell phone or whatever you happen to use and
you scroll down to choose a name to be called or you simply say … ‘home’ and your
phone makes the call for you. In most cases you don’t even recall the numbers
of your kids or best friends. If you lose your cell phone it becomes the equivalent
of being stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific. In fact when
we are out of ‘cell tower coverage areas’ we often feel like we are on some desert
island or remote part of the earth. We cannot seem to be without some form of
communication device at all times. I know people who get so paranoid if their
phone doesn’t ring that they call themselves to see if the thing is actually working
All of this new technology over the past thirty
or so years is great and all that, but what happens when we leave out the human
element? What’s going to happen if we stop socializing in person and only communicate
via some form of electronic media? Look around you when you pull up to a stop
sign or a red light, everyone in the cars around you have their cell phones out
and are totally concentrated upon getting their message of the moment out before
the light changes and they have to start moving again. Sometimes they are texting
to someone who is riding in the car with them. It’s almost as if our society has
become afraid to talk to someone in person.
Back in the early fifties
everyone thought television would be the death of all of us. We were warned not
to watch too many hours a week or sit too close to the set. Then we were cautioned
about going blind unless we had a television lamp sitting on top of the set itself.
I can’t recall hearing about anyone ever being a victim of too much television
or being blinded because they didn’t have a television lamp.
have children in our society who never venture outside of their rooms. They only
come out at night and avoid direct sunlight. Nearly every new television show
has something to do with vampires or zombies. I suppose it must be some sort of
cultural thing, not my generation. The youth of today can live entirely online
without any need for actual verbal conversation or human contact. Besides texting,
you can throw in Facebook, MySpace and Tweeting and you are good to go. Unlock
the bedroom door, drop in a pizza every so many hours and you might not see your
child until they need a car or money for college. They will surface when these
events occur, trust me.
There seems to be this mad rush to collect as
many ‘online’ friends as humanly possible. So you see folks with thousands of
‘friends’ on their web pages, most of these people they do not know, or will ever
meet but they seem perfectly happy to share every detail of their lives with perfect
strangers. Personally I could not care less about someone I don’t know telling
me about what kind of bagel they are eating. Who cares?
No one, much less
me, can deny the fact that computers have enhanced our lives in so many positive
ways. It’s just that I think we should slow down and turn the things off at some
point in our day and sit on the porch or in the living room with a cold beer or
cup of coffee and actually converse with someone, face to face before we lose
the ability to do so.
So stop reading this, turn off your computer, turn
off that cell phone and walk into your kid’s room or next door and start talking
about the weather or politics. You can always get a conversation started if you
© Peary Perry
From North America -
June 22, 2010 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
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