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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Too Much Technology?

I don’t know about you folks, but sometimes I get a headache from all the political and global ‘stuff’ going on. Now I know it is my responsibility as a citizen to stay informed, but sometimes I just want to throw up my arms and say to heck with it. Same way with all the new technology out there. Sound familiar? My frustration is more pronounced when I’m messing with computers. Even after all these years, I know very little about them or their programs. I don’t know. Maybe I just fell out of the ‘dumb’ tree and hit too many branches on the way down. Looking around, it seems as if our whole lives are being swallowed up by technology. I remember a line supposedly uttered by some shade tree philosopher when the telephone came into being. It went something like “when you pick up the telephone, you lose the charm of seeing what is over the next hill.” That happens to us all. With the cyber-technology available to us, we are, at least I am, inundated with information of every sort. The days of leaning back with a cup of coffee and leisurely perusing the local newspaper are growing short. The recognition of a loved one’s cursive letters will soon be a thing of the past because of the convenience and speed of email. Back when I was a teenager in Fort Worth, Mom would receive chain mail, those sneaky little letters promising fame and fortune if you would just make copies and send them to twenty people. One I’ll always remember had a list of addresses. The instructions said to send the top address a dollar, then add your name to the bottom. Within a month, you’d receive over $5000.00. Dad snorted that it was just a scam. "Nobody gets something for nothing," he said. Of course, at thirteen, I knew better, so I retrieved the letter from the trash and faithfully made my twenty copies. I dropped them in the mail along with the dollar to the name on top of the list. Then I sat back to wait. I’d show Dad. Well, I waited, and waited. You know how much money I got? Zip, Zilch, Zero. I may be slow, but I learned my lesson. And I was lucky to get out so cheaply. Mark Twain hit the proverbial nail on the head when he wrote “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. It wasn’t until years later when Dad and I were camping in Central Texas on a deer hunt that he told me he had been suckered more than once by such scams. The only difference, he explained, between him and me was that I was smart enough to listen to my father. He had ignored his own Dad’s advice on several occasions only to come up on the short end of the deal every time. Back then, life was nowhere as complicated as it is today. We did not have the means for today's extensive social networking that beckons you with every click of the mouse. Today, many folks get carried away with the ease of putting their names and achievements (good or bad) out for everyone to see. Years back, there were various newsgroups on the Internet. I joined one on writing. One of the group members claimed when he had writer’s block, he would wander down to his sailboat and pass the time. Now, I’d had three or four westerns published by then so I thought I knew everything. I commented on the forum that ‘perhaps he should stay away from the sailboat and plant his seat in front of the computer. To overcome writers’ block, you write.” Well, sir, the old proverb “The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ had never been more clearly illustrated to me when the gentleman in question wrote back, blistering my hide for criticizing his methods. I learned another lesson then. I don’t comment on anyone unless it is something very positive. Don’t misunderstand. I am on a couple social networking forums, Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook because I can post a weekly blog of ranting and ravings; LinkedIn because of a Crime Writers Forum. I don’t spend too much time on them as some folks will attest. In fact, I don’t think I know how to reply to comments on either forum. Several friends sent me birthday greetings. A couple asked if I had received the. I did, and I replied, but they didn’t get it. I guess I punched a button that sent it floating around out there in cyberspace. If you stop and think about it, the coming of computers and the attendant technology has brought about abrupt changes in our lives. You can buy everything online. You can bank, purchase insurance and on and on and on. And all without leaving the comfort of your home. Now, that’s really spooky—and neat. Would I go back to the old days? As appealing as their memories are, I don't think so. In fact, these might just be the good old days. www.kentco

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