Talk, not tech
Letís start with a given Ė technology has been great for productivity and ease of communication over the past 20 years. Here at the Kenwood Press, we accomplish with four people the amount of work it would have taken dozens back in the day. We donít have to type-set pages. We donít have to develop film and hope for a useable shot. We donít have to fax letters, much less send them in the mail. We can send and receive payments instantaneously. So Iím not coming at this from the point of view of a complete Luddite.
But a lot of new high-tech products seem to be solutions in search of a problem. Why do we need Amazonís Alexa or OK Google to do things that we can do for ourselves? Why do we need the ďInternet of Things?Ē Do we need our refrigerator to tell us that weíre low on milk, and then order it for us from the store? Isnít it bad enough that people use Amazon Prime so much that they generate mountains of cardboard boxes on a daily basis? Not only are we being trained to give in to every commercial desire, but weíre moving toward a time when our devices will anticipate what we want and order it for us. I donít know about you, but Iím scared of that. Iím OK with walking across the room to turn on a light or lower a window shade. I need an excuse to get off the couch once in a while. And then thereís the idea of a device inside your house with the potential to listen to everything you say and feed it back to a gigantic corporation that wants to sell things to you, and sell your data to other companiesÖ but thatís a topic for another day.
In the Pixar movie Wall-E, humanity has become so inactive that people float around in pods and robots do all the work for them. The humansí legs donít work anymore because they never use them. Thereís a scene showing portraits of the spaceshipís captains throughout history, with each generation getting progressively fatter and more out of shape.
Another aspect of this technology-driven era is how devices and products can isolate us from one another while creating the illusion that weíre not alone. I can sit in my La-Z-Boy (yes we have one, and I love it!) and channel surf while texting friends and family and checking my email and Instagram feed. Itís all so greatÖ unless the person on the other end of the device goes silentÖ or the power goes outÖ or youíve finally won a game of Solitaire after umpteen attempts, and now what? Iím just saying, itís good to get out and see real people in the real world, even if itís just going out to pick up a carton of milk. Iíve tried to teach my 87-year-old mother how to text and email, but sheís not very good at it. You know what she does when she wants to talk to someone? She calls them on the phone! Can you imagine?
Around here weíre lucky, in that when you go to the market or the post office, you invariably run into someone you know, and a 10-minute trip to the store can turn into a half an hour. But thatís OK. Itís called community, and we need it to survive.