Twenty-First Century Technology

While sitting at my desk listening to a storm rage outside, I went online to see what else is happening in the world and learned that a tornado flattened a gymnastics studio and destroyed a trailer park in a Tulsa, Oklahoma suburb.  Maybe the tornado was part of the same weather system ripping through central Arkansas at the moment. But, now that I type this, I realize it’s quiet outside; the storm seems to have passed.

My automatic behavior—checking for information online—seems to be uncommon in The Village (as we’ve come to call this place in which we live). It seems a lot of people don’t even have email, much less use the internet as an information resource.  And, if they do have email accounts, they don’t bother checking them very often.  Or, and I suppose this is a real possibility, they don’t bother responding (at least not to me) when asked a direct question via email.

I am not on the cutting edge of technology, not by any means, but I will not let myself be made irrelevant simply by failing to participate in the technology that is a simple fact of life in today’s world. People who refuse to learn new technologies because “a hand-written letter was good enough for my parents and it’s good enough for me” are deluding themselves. Yes, hand-written letters were, and are, wonderful; I love them.  But, then, candles were (and continue to be) useful in providing light in the evening.  Horses and buggies provided a faster and easier means of transportation than walking, but cars and motorcycles and high-speed rail systems are even more convenient. And root cellars were fine for storing foods for the winter; I’m rather enamored of my refrigerator, though.

So, when I hear or sense that people are unwilling to “get on board” with technologies that are, like it or not, changing the way we communicate, I shake my head. Maybe Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, etc. will be replaced by other media and technologies, but in the interim it just makes sense to me to stay abreast of what’s current. Hiding behind my fear of being unable to keep up is, in a word, idiotic.

The attitude that informs the technophobic behaviors I see or sense around me gives me an idea for a story.  It’s 1840 and a guy decides to write a book, but he’s never learned to read and write because, as he says, “Just talking was enough for my parents and it’s good enough for me.”  So, he engages a literate friend to listen to his words and put them down on paper. No, this story is going nowhere. Just like the Luddites who hide in their sod houses.

But on the other hand…

Technology is not a substitute for thought. It’s not a substitute for emotion. It’s not a substitute for innovation.  It’s just a bloody tool.  An often interesting and sometimes overwhelming tool, but just a tool.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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