new and improved?


Brian Golden

I had the opportunity this past weekend to visit with some old friends of mine, who are excellent conversationalists and have a truly unique outlook on life. One topic which we discussed at length, the idea that new and improved is not necessarily always an improvement, provided some interesting rhetoric, and had us all in stitches.
I remember years ago, when cell phones had just arrived on the scene, prior to the texting craze, when I commented that we would someday have devices that allowed one to perform multiple operations including: Talking on the phone, taking high-resolution pictures, write comments/notes to one’s friends, surf the Internet and basically, define and confine our very existence into a device small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand. Many people thought I was crazy.
Presently, of course, we do have such technology, and I’m not sure yet how I feel about that. One on hand, the convenience of having a GPS system available at any time, via cell phone, is great for someone like me. I have a tendency of getting lost, and in typical “guy” fashion, seldom think to stop and ask for directions. I guess I figure if I’m heading north I’ll just find a road going north and eventually I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be (I believe this system of mine actually worked once, and only once).
On the other hand, as if it weren’t bad enough that people continue to drive while speaking on the phone, they now have the option of texting, surfing the Web, etc. Even better, some companies give customers the ability to do all of these at once. Excellent! I can just see it now, some careless person, probably with their son/daghter/niece/aunt/grandmother/brother/friend riding in the vehicle, driving down the road talking to a co-worker about the company picnic, while texting another co-worker about how much they can’t stand so and so (probably the person on the phone with them at this moment), all the while searching the Internet for a good deal on a new pair of sneakers. My estimation of time until horrendous car accident occurs, about 10 seconds.
I suppose what I’m getting at is this: Technology is not so important that we should allow it to control every aspect of our lives. Some days I even miss the “old” telephones. You know, the kind with the rotary dial that took you 5 minutes just to call your buddy with the (989)-978-9099 phone number (I just made that number up, please do not attempt to call it as I have no idea who will answer). The funny part about those pre-911 days is that in an emergency, you had to dial “0” for the operator, the number which took the longest to “rotate”. In addition, sometimes I miss the novel concept of “I’m not at home, leave a message”.
I guess it really comes down to what makes one happy. I’d rather read a book than text anyone, because if I really need to talk to you, I’ll call. I do my surfing during my lunch break, and that’s usually enough for me. And as much as I would benefit from a GPS, I think I’ll stick with my method, even if it means I have to leave a couple of hours early. But that’s just me.