“Precious metal lines
Molded into highways
Running through me
Days and nights
Weeks and months and seasons
Rolling through me
Computer age…” -Neil Young
A week or so ago, Scott and I were having a drink with a friend when the subject of technology came up. Well, actually, the absence of technology. We discussed how critical technology is to our daily lives and speculated about what would happen if we woke up one morning, and, say, the Internet stopped working. Permanently. For everyone. What would happen? Would it be a return to the Dark Ages? we wondered. How much of the world’s vital information and archives – not to mention money – would be lost forever? Would the world just simply implode? As silly as it sounds, each of us expressed a legitimate fear that a world without technology would pose a serious issue for future generations…and would potentially erase much of the proof of our existence and accomplishments.
Now sure, this is a bit far fetched, and, after a couple of beers we were probably being somewhat dramatic, but it really got me thinking. What would it have been like to live a life without the Internet? Or TV? Or computers, radios, phones, calculators, video games, etc.? Well, go ask your grandparents. Or your parents, even. I’m sure they would be more than happy to enlighten you. Despite the fact that technology is relatively new to the scene in terms of the world’s history, an obscene portion of our lives today depends on it. Even the remote villages in Vietnam and India that Scott and I visited on our travels had a TV in every hut and access to the Internet nearby. How is it that an entire planet’s inhabitants can transition so quickly from depending solely on their own knowledge and skills to complete and utter dependence on a box plugged into the wall? Oh, wait, we don’t even have to plug them in anymore! We have a wealth of useful information (mixed with an even bigger wealth of useless junk) at our fingertips. Want to learn how to play an instrument? You don’t need a real teacher for that, just click here! Don’t know how to file your taxes? You don’t need an accountant for that, click here! Want to go to college? Learn another language? Officiate a wedding? Buy…anything? You don’t even need to leave your couch. You could literally become a hermit and never interact with another human ever again and be just fine.
I don’t know about you, but, now that I actually stop and think about it, I’m not okay with this. When did life become so impersonal? Who decided that texting from across the room was a reasonable way to communicate with someone? Why do we (and I am super guilty of this one) feel the unrelenting urge to go out and have life experiences just so we can plaster them all over our Facebook pages? Apparently the notion of having good, old-fashioned fun with actual people while participating in real-life activities dissipated while we were all looking down at our phones.
I know I’m not the first person to have this “insightful” revelation, and I surely won’t be the last, but perhaps we should pay attention to how much we rely on technology and see if we can’t do something about it. Obviously I’m not advocating the destruction of the Internet – I mean let’s not get extreme here – but rather just encouraging each of us to reevaluate how we spend our time. For instance, instead of texting the old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile, maybe give him or her a call. Or, better yet, pay them a visit. Instead of staring at your cellphone during dinner with your significant other, try turning it off and making some eye contact. Or instead of surfing the web, spend your lunch break going for a walk with a co-worker. Breathe in some fresh air. Read a book. You never know, the technapocalypse could happen at any moment… (Oh, but I certainly hope not.)