Picture this: a beautiful spring day, blue sky, warm sunshine breaking through a single cloud. A well-dressed forty-something gentleman is purposefully striding along the sidewalk. Polished shoes, well cut suit, crisp white shirt, tie. Perhaps a Rolex on one wrist, a signet ring on one finger. Also imagine an intense concentration on his face. His focus narrowed on one small screen. He is about to do the Cellular Two Step.
Picture now a twenty-something young woman walking along the same sidewalk in the opposite direction. She is dressed casually, running shoes, jeans and T-shirt. There’s a scarf wrapped around her neck. But you can see that she’s wearing ear buds and she too is focused intently on the device in her hands. Her focus is on her thumbs moving quickly across the keypad. In seconds she too is about to do the Cellular Two Step.
It seems this particular dance is learned early on. There have been accidents. Users have narrowly missed flagpoles, lampposts and yes cars. Not to mention the occasional collision with other human beings likewise engaged in their technological tangos.
I watch with great amazement and yes some amusement at the complete disregard people have for their surroundings. Their concern is simply for the eight or so inches in front of them about hip height and shaped like a tiny book. Their cellular phones. Oh forgive me, their cell phone. I often forget that the world revolves around acronyms and 140 characters. I miss long conversations with real words and the presence of two or more individuals. Now it’s more like LOL and IMHO.
I’m told that cursive writing is no longer taught in schools. I actually witnessed a young woman unable to read cursive writing. Unable to read it! This is the 21st century. This is a first world country. These are educated people. What will they do when the power goes out? I don’t hold out much hope. Those of us over 50 will have no problem. Those of you under 30 may die. Oops!
Technology should be a tool not a tether.
There are a great many things I expect. I expect that I will develop more wrinkles on my face. I expect that the sun will shine one day. I expect to overcome many problems in my life but not all of them. I do not expect privacy when I’m outside my home.
In this day and age it is the height of hubris to think that’s no one is watching. I don’t understand why people get so huffy when there is talk of making use of cameras on the streets. The idea is to catch people who are running red lights or are committing other infractions on the street. Why exactly are you afraid? What is it that you are doing that you don’t want to be noticed? Picking your nose is not a crime but it would be unseemly to find it posted on YouTube. So there is an uproar about a government agency designed to protect us watching, but no one cares about the teenybopper with a camera phone.
Any government agency that uses electronics has protocols and restrictions that they must follow. Teddy and Sally have no one looking over their shoulders when they take that picture of you with your fly open. Who exactly are you trusting? I do question the wisdom of relying on an adolescent’s sense of humour. If Big Brother wants to watch my every move when I am outside my home, go for it! Hopefully I will provide you with a chuckle and perhaps a break from a strenuous day.
Privacy is a concept that we don’t actually have the right to. When we were children our parents kept tabs on us for our own protection. In the ensuing years other authority figures have endeavoured to ensure that we were allowed to live our lives as we saw fit. Yes, we must conform to the laws of the land and to societal mores. But for the most part our choices are our own. There is however one snake in the grass: technology.
We have phones that can take exceptional pictures at a distance without the intended knowing. We have computers that look right back at us as we enjoy surfing the net. Don’t get me wrong, technology has made my life much, much easier but at what cost? You can walk into any cafeteria full of students and there is an eerie silence. Many of the students have their heads bent over, their hands furiously texting to someone who is sitting two feet away. And no one seems to be too disturbed by this?
Are we loosing the ability to chat with another? I remember the casual repartee that some people were exceptionally good at. I remember getting to know people, hearing their voice with the nonverbal communication that went with the conversation. Is technology about to rob us of the tradition of conversing? I certainly hope not!
I love to talk. It’s no fun only talking to one’s self. At least not for long periods of time. I believe we’re all better people when we can share who and what we are with others. That’s why we are called ‘people’. “United we stand, Divided we fall.” Turn to a stranger and say hello, that’s how friends begin.