Thursday, November 4, 2010

Technology: Blessing or Curse? You decide.

During my weekly writing jaunt to the suburban Starbucks “where the cool kids hang out”  I overheard a group of, ahem, middle aged ladies discussing their views on how technology has transformed our world for the worse. 

“Every time I want him to do something, take out the trash, go to the store, mow the lawn, whatever, he’s on the damn computer,” Mom A complained.  (I think she was talking about her husband.)

Mom B chimed in. “Kids don’t even know how to talk to each other anymore. They just IM. Nobody has manners or respect. And don’t get me started about attention span.”

“Yeah. You’re right. If I want someone’s attention, I have to text or write on their Wall. I can scream all I want, but when I text, they pay attention,” bellowed Mom C.  They all chuckled.

I, however, LOLed.

I listened to them lament about the good ol’ days as they cursed the way the Internet sucked time from their lives, how they get caught up in Facebook, playing games, shopping and reading anything that they wanted, without restriction. Where there used to be boundaries, there is temptation. Even finding a good sweet potato pie recipe so that Aunt Mabel will be impressed on Thanksgiving is no longer a holy chore. It just requires a nanosecond search. Where’s the glory in that?

I listened with great interest, straining to hear them as they sipped their Frappuccinos, Tazo teas and Vivanno smoothies. Sarah McLachlan was singing about remembering something or another.

Ladies! You're wrong! Technology fastens us to the world and our collective humanity! I wanted to say.  But, I knew that would be rude, or obnoxious, or downright stalker-ish. I was on my laptop after all; Pfft....they'd never take me seriously. Couldn’t I just write with a pen and paper and enjoy a cup of coffee? they’d retort. 

I didn’t want a confrontation.

So, just for kicks, I started to Google the emotions I was feeling and the thoughts I had as I listened to their chatter. In doing so, I was astounded at the gravity of my argument FOR technology.

Herewith. First search: fucking annoyed.  877,000 results. Not bad, I thought there’d be more, I muttered to myself.  Maybe I needed to be more delicate with my language. BINGO.  “I’m annoyed.”  65,300,000 results in .75 seconds!  DAMN. See? Lots of people become annoyed. I'm not alone.

My stomach growled. Second search: I’m hungry. 23,000,000 results. Now that’s more like it.

Yawn. I need more coffee.  I’m tired.  48,800,000 results. WOW. Talk about a universal connection. So many people are tired. Even people in Indonesia and Mongolia get tired, I learned.

Mongolia. Such a poor country. Many stray animals.  Search: My dog died.  7,090,000 pages. So sad. They also have poor sanitation. Search: Eat shit and die. 450,000 results. Again, I thought there would be more, but there was a nice Urban Dictionary refresher for those who use the phrase disparagingly.

I passed gas. (Well, actually I didn’t, but since I was on the topic…) Search: 9,730,000.  Again, jeez, I really thought there’d be more than that. In India, the average person passes flatus two to four times a day and it is not foul-smelling. Still. Out of the billions of people in the world, I just learned that passing gas is right up there with being hungry, and is way more common than being "fucking annoyed." How interesting!

The women began discussing politics.

Search: Obama sucks. (This seemed to be their consensus, not mine.) Hmm. 5,770,000 results, including a Facebook fan page with 26,000 people who like this.  To be fair:  “Bush is an idiot.”  Hot Damn! 6,460,000 results.  Uh-oh. Fan Pages with far less “likes.”  No wonder the Democrats lost the House, I thought.

Well, that’s America, I smirked. Search: Coca-Cola. 33,300,000 results.  Ah, the pause that refreshes. Or was that Pepsi? Nope. Let me check. Yes. It was Coke’s slogan.  I was right.

Usually am.

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