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A View From the Deck: Are You a 'Tool' to Technology?

In this installment of 'A View From the Deck', local author J. Wiley Dumas takes a humorous, yet insightful look at how many people have become overly-dependant on technology.

I gotta admit, as much as I love tradition, there are times when one must embrace new technology.

This is a very hard admission for a ‘Luddite’ such as myself. And by ‘embrace’, I simply mean that I’m using it as a TOOL, not intertwining my life around it.

That way, when it fails, my world won’t end. I’ll just go back to doing it the
‘Old-fashioned’ way, the way that still works, even when the batteries die, or
the wireless signal takes a vacation to Aruba.

(By the way, GAMERS should quit reading right now!)

My biggest problem with modern technology is that it seems to only last a short period of time until you need to ‘upgrade’ to the latest version of whatever it is. I
mean seriously, how many MORE versions of the iPhone are there still remaining
to be released? You would think that a company like Apple could make one that
would last MORE than a year.

And why is the technology so fragile? Lay an iPhone or laptop on the table too hard and it becomes an expensive toy for the dog to play with and chew on. Yes, there are aftermarket protective cases that provide a degree of protection, but shouldn’t the company that makes the thing INCLUDE that in the already outrageous price?

There are so many people out there that have wrapped themselves up in modern technology that they don’t know how to do things when that technology is absent.

Let me give you some true-life examples of what I’m referring to…

I was spending some time with my nephew one day not long ago, a 13-year-old that rarely goes outside other than to catch the schoolbus, and I suggested to him we should get a little exercise by playing some baseball. I had a couple gloves in the car and was delighted to hear his enthusiastic cheers as I went out to get them…

Then imagine my horror when I came back in and he had set up a baseball game on his PS-3.

Not long ago, I was watching a young woman attempt to parallel park, but was having a large degree of difficulty. I politely asked if she would like me to guide her, and she responded “This is my dad’s. It doesn’t have the auto-park in it. It
doesn’t even have a GPS. It’s a piece of @&$%! Why do you old people hang
on to such ancient junk?”

(It was a 2002 Ford Pickup)

‘Texting’ has replaced normal communication in today’s world. I’ve had to learn to decipher the meaning of things like ‘BRB’, ‘LOL’, ‘PLZ’, and ‘TTYL’.

I’ve had to learn how to use ‘New’ technology as well. Where I would once bang out a novel on my old typewriter, I’m (slowly) learning how to use ‘Word’ on my desktop. This isn’t a problem until we lose power for one reason or another (Some guy ‘Texting and Driving’ taking out the utility pole), and I’m (shudder) forced to find paper and pencil to finish that one chapter. Oh, the HORROR.

I finally got rid of all of my 8-track music and went to the fabulous medium of CDs not long ago. Yes, I understand that CDs are ‘Old School’ to many, and that MP-3 is the (latest) way to listen to music. But something is missing. Maybe it has to do with digitalizing the music. I’m not certain, but Beethoven’s Ninth does not sound as good on a CD as it once did on tape.

It used to be I could go out and not have my work follow me, but cellular phones have forced me to wear an ‘electronic leash’ as it were. Even turning it off or
leaving it behind is not an excuse to some. “I called. You didn’t answer. Why
not?”

“I was out walking in the woods, trying to get some peace and quiet.”

“Why didn’t you have your phone with you?”

I love books. Being a writer, I love to read. There’s something about turning a page with your fingers in anticipation of what the next paragraph is going to be. ‘Nook’ and ‘Kindle’ have taken the place of the old bound tome. Don’t get me wrong. I think they are fantastic TOOLS that cut down on the already overloaded
bookshelf, but gone is the scent of freshly printed paper, the feel of
hardboard or even leather, and that favorite bookmark your grandmother gave you has no place to be put in an e-reader. Yes, I KNOW they save trees, but why
does one of the most well-known conservation organizations in this nation STILL
send me endless mailings at least twice a week PRINTED ON PAPER?

My old 1990 SUV has over 300,000 miles on it and still manages around 20mpg. Why? All the windows and doorlocks are MANUAL. No electrically-adjustable seats, mirrors, or digital displays, thus equating to less weight and strain on the engine.

Technology can always fail. Usually, it’s something no worse than losing a paper you’ve been working on, and trying to find it in the vast digital land of a 1 terrabyte hard drive, or refusing to let you see ‘Avatar’ on Blu-ray. But every so often, because so many of us have become dependent on it, the failure has the
potential to be devastating, and hopefully, most of us still know the ‘old-fashioned
way’ of doing things.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we all need to learn more about how things were done before all the technological ‘advances’ came into being and made us dependent on it for most aspects of our daily lives. Write a letter to a friend rather than sending them an e-mail. Go to the library and check out an actual book, rather than reading Snooky’s biography on your Kindle. Get outside and play catch with your child rather than hooking up the Wii to play Res-evil.

But most importantly, learn to use technology as it was meant to be; a helpful tool, not a lifestyle.

Don’t become the ‘Tool’ in this ever-changing technological age.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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