“First we shape our tools. Then our tools shape us.” Thoreau
A young master of the universe recently stated In the Wall Street Journal, “I can't imagine how people managed to cope ten years ago when they didn't have all the modern technological tools we now have available.”
As one of only three people still living who does not own a cell phone, I-pod, GPS, satellite radio, laptop or Blackberry, I'd like to respond to that young man and tell him how, back in ancient times (10 years ago), we dinosaurs managed to somehow survive.
Before we had computers I hardly ever crashed and was never downloaded, as far as I know. Before computers (BC) we didn't have our mailboxes filled up with dumb jokes or our identities stolen by hacker schmucks. We didn't have to back-up our data, remember passwords or be constantly concerned about catching a new and nasty virus. Nor were we targeted by Nigerian benefactors who wanted to make us rich or by e-mailing amateur pharmacists worried that we might be suffering from erectile disfunction.
Prior to Internet chat rooms and personal web sites we met people face to face instead of sharing intimate details with total strangers. Before we became a nation of shut-ins, staring at our monitors and wall-size, high-def entertainment systems, people actually knew their neighbors and kids weren't so easily targeted by perverts. Today employees can be fired with one quick and easy mass e-mail and lonely singles order up a mate just like they would a pizza. And all this we call “progress”?
Before spell checkers, Quicken and Excel, people actually knew how to spell words and do simple math. Kids who worked at the hamburger stand knew how to make change and communicate instead of just hitting the picture of French fries on an electronic “menu.” Businesses didn't have to shut down and hustle everyone out of the store because the “computers were down.” Prior to shopping online we actually supported local merchants, who in turn supported our local community.
These days children lay around for hours-on-end playing video games whereas kids used to go outside and play baseball or shoot baskets through a hoop nailed to the garage or the barn. When was the last time you saw a bunch of neighborhood kids out in the street throwing around a football? These days they're all inside playing the Madden version. Or else they're shooting or “killing” something on their computer.
Before people paid $12.95 per month to listen to satellite radio the music and the talk were free. You could even listen to Howard Stern or Imus without paying, although I can't imagine why you'd want to. Sure, when people didn't have global positioning systems in their cars we occasionally got lost. But then you had a discussion with your wife about asking for directions and saw new places you'd never see otherwise.
Prior to the creation of I-pods and You Tube authors and writers actually got paid for their creations, rather than having their stuff ripped off and falsely attributed. Before digital cell phone cameras we actually got copies of pictures that we could pass around and paste in scrapbooks. I hardly ever see photographs any more, instead someone wants to show me a tiny picture on their cell phone.
Speaking of phones, before cellphones we didn't have our meals interrupted by obnoxious ring tones or by big shots who feel compelled to discuss their business dealings, or their divorce, for all the world to hear. Back when we used landline telephones we didn't have to answer the phone three or four times to complete one phone call because the service kept being dropped. Before people started using their cars as a mobile telephone booth, and actually drove while they drove, we didn't have to dodge oncoming drivers who were too busy texting to steer.
How did we get along before all this technology? Very well, thank you.