We take a divergent path from the politics of the day to discuss…technology.
When I was young, we were shoved out of the door and were not really expected until dinnertime. Mom never knew for sure where we were, and sometimes she was better off not knowing. Or maybe she just acted like she didn’t know. With twelve kids, I think she might have been hoping one or two of us would get knocked off somewhere on the path to adulthood. Anyway, I look back on my childhood and wonder why I get nervous if I leave the house without my cell phone, or if my son does. It seems that the odd child without a cell phone is, well, odd.
And think about ATM machines. What would we do without such convenient access to cash? Not that we need as much currency anymore, but it occasionally comes in handy. But gee whiz, what did we do before ATM machines? Plan ahead or make do or something?
And before the Internet was developed, I remember learning how to open these things at the library — they had pieces of paper with black markings all over them, and they were bound together with stiff covers. Books, I think they were. There were big ones that came in a set, and those were called encyclopedias, and they had to be replaced every now and then. The fiction books could be kept on the shelves indefinitely. Nowadays, you can get encyclopedias on plastic circles, or just grab information right off the internet. I remember becoming part of the “Look It Up Club” in the second grade. Everyone joined, and we all got certificates with our names on them, right under the motto “We Never Guess – We Look It Up!” We learned how the Dewey decimal system worked, and how to use a card catalog. While the digital versions of our reference materials and other books may be easier to carry, there is something wonderfully nostalgic about lazily turning pages under a tree, traveling to foreign lands or finding oneself in the middle of some intrigue.
And our cars! Rolling technological wonders they are! And technological wizards it takes to keep them running! My husband has a 1970′s era Volkswagen. It’s his pride and joy. He maintains it himself. No plugging it into some computer to tell him the timing is off. No specialist dependent upon a machine to read that the spark plugs need replacing. He uses his ears and his common sense to keep that baby of his running. And he’s much happier. (He doesn’t know how to scroll on a web page, click on an icon, or even turn on a computer. He certainly doesn’t want to be dependent upon one in his car!)
Overall, I suppose that technology has made our lives easier and safer. Just think of all the medicines and treatments we have for our very human condition. I’d hate to do my bookkeeping manually, though I’m not sure that computerizing everything helps me get my work done faster – I just think that more is expected of me, instead. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy my rather mundane efforts to move that massive pile of dirt in my backyard. There’s something so absolutely sublime in the low-tech shovel-meets-dirt moment. Nothing between me and the feel of the shovel cutting off another small piece of the mountain. Right now it’s me, the dirt, the weeds, the squirrels, and the birds. As the weather warms up and the mosquitoes return, I’ll have to cut back or relinquish my efforts, but for now, it’s a blessed break from the constant barrage of technology. Hubby has told me multiple times that he could do the work much more efficiently and quickly with the backhoe, but I keep pointing out the this mysterious backhoe has yet to make an appearance. So much for the husband helping out. So I keep on using my labor and my hand tools to move and smooth the low spots in my yard.
And if someone comes up with a computerized shovel, I’ll refuse to use it.