If you couldn’t tell by my previous posts, I am a baby boomer. That’s right a baby boomer which to the Millennials translates into an old coot. As such I have a love hate relationship with technology.
Now technology has its place most notably when it comes to tennis rackets. The move from the heavy, small faced, wooden rackets of yesteryear to the high tech equipment with its various sizes, shapes and space age materials of today is no less than amazing. I also like the high tech improvements in medicine and athletic gear. And the new cars are way cool. What I cannot stand however are the electro magnetic doohickeys and gadgets. There are good reasons for this antipathy.
By nature I am decidedly old school, favoring the soulful pleasures of a Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, the Tempting Temptations or Marvin Gaye to the contemporary jolt of a Jay Z, Drake or K Michelle. I choose songs that speak of the joy and pain of love over some rap ditty advising me that it’s the first of the month so grab your check and come on. Like I said, I’m old school.
Moreover, while young people take to it like ducks to water, technology makes me feel stupid. It’s more than I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. It’s supposed to be fast and easy, but for me it is anything but.
When the computer freezes, or when I mess up the TV by pushing the wrong button on my remote control precisely when a touchdown is about to be scored, I am lost. I can’t tell what button I pushed or how to fix the problem. So I spend agonizing minutes trying to undo what I just did. The more I try the more frustrated and angry I become. Even if somehow I figure out how to correct my mistake, it’s often too late. The moment has passed.
I am also reasonably concerned about the addictive nature of technology. Young people appear incapable of functioning without their technological wizardry? They wait in line for hours if not days for the “privilege” of spending hundreds of dollars on the latest contraption. They bury their heads in i phones and tablets as if said technology is an extension of their bodies, when it is they who are the extensions.
They text and tweet their daily activities and take photos of themselves (otherwise known as selfies), doing the most inane things. Why they think anyone cares about their bathroom habits is anyone’s guess. They go so far as to select potential spouses over the internet. I on the other hand could never imagine meeting a soul mate by machine.
I am instead persuaded that communicating via technology advances neither human interaction nor understanding. Communication, real communication is greater than words. Incorporating all of the senses, taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell, even intuitive feel communiqué is a multilayered tapestry of speech, body language, eye movement, context, tone, tenor, breath, inflection, subtlety, nuance, environment, setting, timing, tempo and pace. It is warm even when unpleasant and speaks to one’s heart and intellect. Electronic communication is cold and impersonal. Even a Dear John letter has more character.
More to the point, I don’t trust technology or the application thereof. The Supreme Court has concluded that several Constitutional Amendments, most notably, the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures creates a right of privacy.
But what do mere words matter when the technology exists to establish one’s location anywhere in the world by tracking their cell phone use. What good is the constitution when technology makes it possible to determine one’s personal internet habits without access the individual’s computer? For some this is and uncomfortable if not embarrassing notion. And how is there any reasonable expectation of privacy when government employs technology to systematically, indiscriminately and arbitrarily collect and retain every phone call of every single American?
Technology is advancing so rapidly as to strip the law’s ability to keep pace. Nothing, not your home, not your voice, not your image, not you buying or voting habits, not your personal computer, not even your trash is sacred.
Yet another example of the invasive nature of technology involves security cameras. You may not see them but they damn sure see you. What is worse, the cursed things are everywhere. The moment you leave your abode, everywhere you wander, your picture is being repeatedly taken, both night and day. You have no idea who is collecting your images or what’s being done with those impressions. Although it’s your face that is being photographed (sans your expressed permission) you don’t own the photo. Someone else does.
Nor is technology without its dangers. Texting while driving is a deadly cocktail. With the flip of a switch a missile fired from the other side of the world can rain death upon the innocent and the condemned. Those unfortunate enough to be within the blast radius are considered so much “collateral damage”.
Some are hell bent on creating A.I. (artificial intelligence), computers and robots that are self aware, as if movies like the Terminator, the Matrix or Shane Acker’s visionary animated film 9, never existed. One of the scariest monsters ever to be imagined is neither a neck biting Vampire nor a brain eating Zombie. It is instead the cold, emotionless, yet insidiously evil computer HAL of 2001, A Space Odyssey. Even the dinosaurs were not so stupid as to create their replacements.
As mentioned earlier, technology has its place but too much of it is evil incarnate. The damn smart phones and tablets I own but don’t use as well as the VCR (am I dating myself), with all of their fancy knobs and buttons are controlled by fetid demons from the deepest, darkest pits of hell. Their mission is nothing less than world domination, a goal they have largely achieved.
In conclusion, a friend of mine told me that baby boomers invented technology, computers and the internet. While he is no doubt correct, I apparently did not receive the memo. It was probably sent by e-mail and I couldn’t turn on my computer.
And lest I forget, let me wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all.