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Technological Side Effects
I feel like I'm crammed inside a time warp. I don't know if my perception of life is from the past or (As my daughter tells me), I'm just not willing to evolve. Regarding technology, I can't perceive all advancements as being amazingly wonderful.
The world is spinning so fast. I can't hold on. And honestly, I really don't want to. My generation is a dying breed and soon we will not need to contend with all this brain altering technology. Computer skilled expectations are too excessive for the majority of us to grasp and patience is not a virtue for most young brilliant minds. Everything has been taken away from us. Change can be good, but at what cost. It all boils down to choice, and soon our generation will have none.
Fortunately, some components of our yester-years remain with us. Seniors can continue their monthly routines before those mechanical tornados consume us. We, the flower children of the fifties and sixties, are the baby boomers who grew up in a world alien to what it has become.
In the near future, methods we once utilized throughout our existence will be negated. When this transition is complete, we will be permanent hi-tech prisoners in an advanced computer age revolution or most likely, dead!
Banking no longer requires a book. Checks have been reduced to numbers on a computer. Mail boxes, like the mailmen are almost obsolete. Bill statements and payment transactions are computer linked to all financial institutions. Cash transfers from one person to another are effortless. Businesses and service providers automatically debit your account us cancelling the once thought infinite personal cheque. All banking can be done at home on a computer, an electronic notebook, or cell phone in the time it takes to collect the mail from the box. Truly astounding, isn't it!
These are remarkable hi-tech creations that benefit everyone. Without the worry of winter snow, ice, transportation, the many locations and time schedules required to make monthly financial transactions are over. The challenge however, is the handicap a computer creates for those who need it the most seniors.
We seniors are the mayo beneath the top slice of a triple decked sandwich. The bread above is the new world of technological advancement the creative minds of today. Below, our lives fill three quarters of the sandwich layers of time our youth have not experienced.
Change was evident then, but at a significantly slower pace. We are the old who tell the same stories about life in our younger years. We do it to help the new generation understand why our fundamental past is no match for today's infinite microchips of knowledge. The epitome of capabilities achieved by a minuscule memory disc is astounding. If my generation had created the advanced technology we have today, computers would innovate rather than intimidate our lives. Since this is not the case, artificial intelligence scares the hell out of us.
The finest creative minds intended practicality with computer enhancements. I am utterly baffled as to why practicality evolved into a lack of common sense solution all in the name of prosperity. You decide for yourself.
When the heavy, bulky television sets were tossed to the curb, I was delighted. The amazingly thinner flat screen replaced it. Easy to carry, took up little space, and its clarity equaled the quality of a theatre screen. Wow! This new age tech stuff was very impressive.
Before too long (maybe within a year), the size of the TV screen expanded from thirty-two to seventy five inches with lots of sizes in between. The screen was thinner than the previous models, if that was even possible. High definition was provided by cable servers (another fee tacked onto our bill). Perfected images, like dew drops on a blade of grass were surreal. One would think you could reach out and touch it. I was so impressed with this advancement. Just think about it large screens for aging eyes and shut-ins. It can't get any better than that!
The cell phone was conceived years before the rapid evolution of the television set and the first highly functional computer. Home encyclopedias became obsolete and boxed for garbage. Purging useless items made way for free space in the home. The computers sucked the knowledge out of almost everything and stored it inside tiny microchips.
The computers could find anything and everything by typing a word or words on the keyboard to be processed by its intelligence tower. Not only were the results immediate but sophisticated in knowledge. The narrow mindedness of one book, one author, one opinion, and one answer, transformed two glazed eyes over a fish bowl into dazed eyes over an ocean.
The world was literally at our fingertips. Communication with people from all over the planet was possible through sites such as chat rooms, face book, twitter accounts, e-mail, and many other ways. Video chats were possible. Small programs led to bigger programs and larger memory banks were installed in new computers in order to keep up with the exponential speed for more and more. Today's computers are necessary for humans to learn and teach beyond the perimeters of partiality. This is a remarkable achievement. To see the world through many eyes rather than those of one is akin to the words of Neil Armstrong as he stepped foot on the moon One giant leap for mankind.
The original cell phones were clunky in appearance and usage but they did the job. With the cost, extended contracts, and the need for long cell codes, (known as roaming numbers) they were owned by few. Advancement was slower but eventually the prices lowered and contracts reduced in time length, making it affordable. The public embraced the significance of ownership. Grading day generated long queues in cell phone stores. Parents with open wallets and yawning purses paid for that magical cell phone their teenagers just had to own.
This portable communication creation was another technological breakthrough. The safety aspects alone deemed a cell phone to be a life saver in case of car breakdown or accident. Cells allowed parents contact with their children when they were on dates or with friends. Providing less anxiety for parents in a troubled and sometimes twisted world, it proved itself worthy beyond expectations. Now the hubby could pick up the groceries without the excuse, I didn't know what kind you wanted. The cell phone would put an end to that.
The evolution of the cellular phone commenced at supersonic speed. They multiplied in numbers compatible to those of computers. And before most of my generation grasped the skills required to utilize its full capacity, the phone intellectually exploded beyond our comprehension. Although the cell phones were smaller and slimmer than the original models, they were now fully functional, highly intelligent walking brains living inside the ass pockets of the future.
But there were serious side effects to the owners of these amazing beacons of security and convenience. It all started when ringing phones delayed brain cells from registering the signal. Answer the damn phone was basically erased from the cerebral function catalog. The problem seemed to primarily affect the younger generation (preteens, teens, young adults) and ultimately it attacked middle aged people. Soon, the cell phones stopped ringing altogether. And the phenomenal audio innovation I lauded, took a nose dive.
Walking zombies, I call them. Heads down, as in prayer or shame they stagger everywhere. You must watch your step when you see them moving in your direction. They are void of manners and will walk into your face and blame it on you. They use their thumbs to type words and insert emojis (yellow heads illustrating many facial expressions) on a cell phone. A grin, an outburst of laughter or a grimace is often seen or drooled from their lips. I often wonder if they are aliens communicating with their kind or maybe they are reporting to the mother ship.
I know their faces. I schooled with some, babysat others, called them my neighbours, acquaintances of friends, friends of mine, and two of them I birthed. They hold phones that seldom ring. Conversations are letters and acronyms typed into the cell phone. Emotions are selected from a list of emolji choices (I have no idea from where that word evolved), and inserted next to typed messages. Though I am afraid of them, also I fear for them.
I have seen these zombies down south where I have vacationed. Sitting in lobby resorts, sipping tequila and beer, they stare at their phone screens ones that seldom ring. I donâÃ¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½t know why it's called a phone. They are oblivious to the exotic birds and the beauty of the resort. I observe a controlled behavior in this ritual. The lounge is very quiet, except for the faint sounds of thumb tapping and the bartender plunking another drink on the counter.
A family of four (mother, father, and two teenagers) scatter to individual seats, pull out their phones and begin the ritual. If it was meant to be a family vacation, someone forgot to lock the phones away before stepping onto the airplane. Some carry occupations inside their tiny phones. Unable to separate workplace from respite paradise, they continue bombarding their brains with thumb typing anxiety. Do they actually believe Armageddon would take place if they forgot to log the employee tasks for the coming week or needed to see if the store's special sale item would arrive on time? I am absolutely certain life would continue to breathe if they put their hands to rest on the shoulders of a loved one rather than on a cold lifeless addiction.
I asked my daughter if she could set aside her cell phone for just one day.
She said, Mom, I would rather cut off my leg than part with my phone for even one minute. Then she proceeded to explain all the incredible functions this divine creation is able to perform.
But it seldom rings, I remarked, And when it does, you seldom answer. If someone leaves a message, you do not listen. So why have a phone if it doesn't do what it is meant to do?
In a matter of fact tone, she said, Mom, nobody has time to talk on the phone anymore or listen to recorded messages. The new wave of communication is through text. It's fast, easy, gets to the point and accomplishes so much more than long dragged out conversations.
I'm not referring to you, Mom, she added. I love our chats and I'm grateful you are still alive so we can stay close. You have to admit your age group is on their way out and when your generation is gone, phone talk will be outdated. Don't worry Mom; you'll be around for awhile yet. That's good to know, I said.
Then she added, But remember to message if you need to contact me, and Ill call you, ok. After saying our goodbyes, I poured myself a strong drink and pondered the universe. Somewhere out there, the sense of it all must be well hidden. For damn sure if it made any sense at all, I couldn't find it.
It truly is a privilege to experience the miracles created by the brilliant minds of this new generation. I marvel at all this technological superiority especially at the velocity of progress it took to unveil the unimaginable. I commend our young geniusesThey envisioned the world as a store open to everyone, at anytime; any place; for any reason and made it fit in the palm of a hand.
Discoveries thought to never exist, were found. Medical growth feeds us the nutrition to live longer and remain productive citizens. Now we can envelop computer technology to assist our slow bodies, failing eyes, and congested ears. I believe the most significant contribution this incredible innovation offers the elders of today is a sense of independence. That is, if we only knew how to operate this damn machinery!
We are swept away by all the functions a hand held computer can execute: the ability to open and close doors; turn on or off lights; lower the house temperature; turn on the coffee pot; set and turn off alarms; view all activities in and outside the house. All this is accomplished from places miles from home.
A small voice activated home computer speaker will play song selections, store them, and perform all the things a cell phone can do through voice activation. Alexa, and other brands now on the market are evolving every day. In fact, as I write this article, there are probably fifty to one-hundred new creations behind the shelves of updated innovations; And each one of them anticipate fame.
The way I see it, the inventors of all the mechanical intelligence we soak up today are moving backward. It is like building a magnificent spacious home, only to decide later that you would rather go minimal with a tiny house. But the tiny homes are getting bigger and fancier ;stretching in size and storing more stuff.
This new generation seems to be oscillating more than evolving. From priceless home-made wooden toys to the plastic imitations of today, our youth want the past and the future, never quite content with now. They tilt more than they time travel. Like a pendulum clock, seconds, minutes, hours pass but the mechanism pushing time forward sways back and forth. After changing from today to tomorrow, they set their clocks back to yesterday.
Verbal and personal communication has succumbed to a detached generation. The youth worship these new scientific creations. Hiding behind keyboards and without a spoken word, people can be anyone they wish and say whatever they want. The filters of humility, empathy, and respect are gone. ItâÃ¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½s like people dont exist outside the bubble screens they invented.
Are they trapped in a matrix without sensing the walls they built around themselves? Do they realize that lack of contact and human interaction gives rise to an apathetic society? I don't know where these novelty devices will lead them. I will not be here. But I do fear their future. In a strange way, I think providence has arrived. My thoughts go back to yesterday and once again I'm hearing Simon & Garfunkel sing the words to, The Sound of Silence. Written By: Mary McNeil
Little Red Engine
Our son-in-law is a Newfoundlander. He is friendly, considerate, helpful and honest. We all love this person who manifests all the typical Newfie charms.
Every so often, probably 2-3 times a year, he visits his Mother to do something for her at her house, usually a repair or the installation of something new to make her life easier.
Recently, before Christmas, he went for a few days to do something for her, and while there, he went over to the local fire station to visit someone. When he entered, he spotted an old red fire engine that was being put up for a silent auction. This machine was in excellent condition, with very low mileage, and was 30 years old.- a real classic machine. Written bids were being made and the envelopes were placed in a box until the end of the bidding period. Being very conscious of the needs of the area, he put in a low-ball bid, hoping that others would up the ante. Shortly after, he came back to his Ontario home.
A few weeks went by. Then he got a call from an official in town congratulating him, as the proud new owner of a classic, red fire engine!
Lucky for him, he had just purchased a home in the village, so he instructed a friend to take the fire engine to his new home, and there it will stay until it gets warmer. In the meantime, he went back to his mother's to continue what he'd started for her and check up on his new house. The fire engine was where it should be and will provide transportation when his family goes home in the summer. I'm going with them! Where else would I get a chance to drive a fire engine at my age?
Newfoundland, the Damnedest Hullabaloo
An organization in Northumberland County, Ontario, called Northumberland Learning Connection, is hosting a series of twelve events, titled, Newfoundland, the Damnedest Hullabaloo.
The series runs from March 28 to May 3, 2019, ending with a "downhome" kitchen party.
There will be speakers on a variety of topics: Russell Wangersky on Iconoclastic Politicians and also on How Climate Change affects Newfoundland; Peter Neary on Getting to Confederation; Greg Malone on Newfoundland Comedy; Barbara Neis on The Pink Sou'Wester, and The Culture of Fish; Robert Mellin on The Look of the Outports and Joey's Big Buildings; Dave Paddon and Karin Wells on Mina Benson Hubbard, The Woman who Mapped Labrador, and Paula Laverty on the Grenfell Mission hooked mats.
Douglas Cameron and David MacFarlane will perform The Door you Came In.
Reading your editorial in December's Downhome one line (about the stars) made us recall one of our favorite family stories.
It was summer 1992; we were visiting NL from London. I and my wife Joanne, son Clint (10) and daughter Cally (7) were visiting NL and had the occasion to be staying by ourselves at my brother in law's cabin on Little Bonne Bay Pond. The kids were long in bed and my wife had just tucked in so I went out to the generator hut to shut it down. I paused then looked around a bit.
When I returned inside I went to my wife who was snuggled in bed and said "Come here you got to see this." "What?, I'm already in bed" She asked as the start of a few protests against getting out but I insisted she eventually came out onto the deck that faced the pond.
Grumbling a bit she stood at the edge of the deck looking left and right and again asked "What?" I said "Look up" and she did. She stood for a moment looking up at the stars in stunned silence then said simply - "Get the kids." Five minutes later we were all standing with necks stretched, heads back, looking at the magnificent cosmos more clearly than we had ever seen it before. The stars are also bright in the summer in Newfoundland.
Bruce and Joanne Manning, London On.