Monday, February 9, 2015

Captains of Industry - Rant

Whitney, Trevithick, Edison, Tesla, Bell, Ford and Turing: When these names are spoken, we know who they are. These men change the face of society, the path of humanity the course of the world. But really, can we say we are better for it?

Today, riding on my bike to my brick and mortar, I was wondering how much better off we were for having all this technology. I could do the “remember when,” and be mocked for walking to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways. I would rather talk about the decline of society because of the “comforts” of technology, and how we might not be shortening our lifespan, but how technology is decreasing our enjoyment of it.

Now before anyone yells “Luddite!” I am also one who benefits from modern technology. I enjoy cooked food, I have a smart phone, there is a computer in my house, I wear a digital watch, I enjoy running water and electricity and we have a car. So what am I bemoaning?

The cost of such technology is something that is destroying the whole fabric of humanity. We slave away for years to get enough to “Keep up with the Jones,” that we have forgotten how to live. My commanding officer in the Navy told me once that invention was the mother of necessity (not the other way around). He was right, because my children “need” a cell phone and a car and a computer. If we came right down to it, all we really need is air, food, water, clothing and human contact.

We have become so dependent on all of our stuff, that if we had an electronic eclipse, most of society would shrivel up and die, like a squash plant without water.

So where am I going with this rant? Complaining about technology and the locomotive we have all climbed on and riding to oblivion - is really kicking against the goads. There is nothing that is going to change, and suggesting we take a rest, Sabbath or a siesta from technology would be as welcome a suggestion as cutting off one’s foot. However, we are not happy as a society, and look how far we have come, but how much less we enjoy life.

If we took one week and climbed in the way back machine, and went back to the life in the early 1900’s: if we turned off technology, drove only 25 miles per hour, walked everywhere, went to the farmer’s market, talked to our neighbors face to face, got to know our community and talked to our children; how much better would we be for that week? I believe we would be better not only on a personal level, but on a global level as well.

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