Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Embrace The Future Without Strangling The Past

     So the Christmas shopping frenzy is coming to a peak and one thing is painfully obvious... society's addiction to technology has far surpassed the tipping point.  There is no going back now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those misguided romantics who actually think that torchlight and outhouses were the "good ol' times".  Indoor lighting, heat and air, automobiles, television and computers, toilet paper... the list of items we rely on daily could go on forever.  But you have to admit that every now and then it feels sooo good to open the blinds and windows for natural light and fresh air.  Jumping on a bicycle instead of driving the car for a short trip.  A television can never replace the feeling of a live concert or walk in the woods.  And honestly, who doesn't like a hand written letter?  Instead of toilet paper one could.... well, never mind.  That's one advancement I'll never hold a grudge against!  Fact is, we actually see doing something "the old way" as a treat.  Homemade cooking, camping, riding a horse, a bike ride, making functional pottery, a garden; all things that were once part of daily life for previous generations.  And we consider them recreation?  A reprieve from our daily lives?  I thought technology made our lives easier, less hectic.  Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate.

     I realize I'm using a computer to write this as well as a complicated network to pass it along, but at one time a wood club was a huge advancement over a bare fist in warfare and courting a mate.  What concerns me is how we have a tendency to shun common sense in the pursuit of anything new.  I know every one of you believe you are the only person actually capable of driving while on the phone or texting; sure, keep convincing yourself of that.  But what did you do ten, fifteen years ago?  Pull over and send an emergency smoke signal to your spouse about how you think pizza would be good for dinner?  Remember life without navigation in the car, and we had to read those pesky road signs?  Oh the horrors!  Bet you can't hold a five minute conversation with a friend without one of you having to answer a call or check a page at least once.  What a strange coincidence that blood pressure and anxiety prescriptions are at an all time high! 

     Time to relax, read a book, or a Nook, or tablet, or your phone, or your..... really?!?  I realize how popular all these devices are and many of you have them.  But do you seriously want to abandon the written word?  Sure you can store hundreds of "books" on a tablet.  Then someone steals it, or you drop it, dog pees on it, or surprise, a glitch! (That NEVER happens with electronics!)  A friend recently dropped his phone off the table and lost EVERYTHING.  It automatically rebooted and erased every last bit of information stored in there.  Now imagine the Dead Sea scrolls being deleted.  "What Bible, Ahab?  Oh, that thing.  It didn't translate well onto our new version of papyrus V.2, so we scrapped it."  Rosetta Stone? Old news.  "Thomas, we don't need to write the Constitution down on paper, we won't forget what it says."  The known history of mankind only exist because someone took the time to WRITE IT DOWN!  It's been chiseled in stone, written on hide and paper, documented and cataloged for all future generations.  And we want to trust the same device that pocket dials Tokyo during peak rate hours with all our vital information?    

     It's too late to go back now.  Heck, I can carry my entire CD collection in my pocket, and that's pretty cool.  But I still have the CD collection!  Take THAT, information cloud!  All I ask is that this Christmas, after you wire up the new flat screen, load up your mp3 player, isolate yourself from society by playing that new video game, or download the "You with a mustache" app on your new phone, that you step back and take a breath.  Think of how you actually did survive without all this stuff in the not so distant past.  Open the blinds, take a walk, eat some cookies out of your oven, not a bag.  Better yet, go to the library and check out a book.  An honest to goodness book with pages and everything!  Cozy up to it.  Book mark the page when you put it down.  Appreciate the importance of the written word.  A defining invention in man's history that we are in danger of forgetting. 

     Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year to all! 

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