I have this feeling that the changes in how we conduct our daily lives have just snuck up on us. And here we are. A small tree came down in the last windstorm. No change there. But then I went about the business of trying to find someone to chop it up. I went to my computer.
In days past, I would have gone to the yellow pages. Now its computer for everything. This might seem totally as it always has been to younger generations, but it is not. My sister does not even own a computer and she is part of the human race and otherwise up to date, informed enough to vote, and able bodies enough to care for a husband with Parkinson’s.
The first person I called about the tree, after tracking him down on Google, asked me to send him a picture of the tree. A simple request…today. I can go outside, take a picture of the tree and text it to him. (I can’t email it because I don’t want my email on my phone and transferring it to my computer is a bother. That’s when it hit me. Does anyone today know how amazing this simple act is? A picture from a phone and instant communication of it?
Of course, when I call these people, I get an answering machine or a robot. No one knows where the person you are calling is these days. Most probably not in their office thanks to work remotely anywhere possibility. My son had to remind me one day that I do not need to be nice when talking to a robot. I do not need to say “thank you” and “please.”
It’s true. I have come to take all of today’s forms of finding things and communicating for granted, though I am not fond of robotic answering systems. “For this press 1, for that press 2”, and on and on, and if what you are calling about isn’t in the list, too bad. Well, if you are lucky, you can talk to a real person after waiting for over a half-hour. Not really efficient, or well, human.
Don’t get me wrong. I am attached to my computer. It is my constant companion and connection to work and play. When it went down the other day because the power cord was bad, I was lost. I panicked, I almost had a breakdown. I found an old, out-of-date computer to save me, temporarily. Of course its old operating system didn’t work for many things due to planned obsolescence. I NEED my computer. Yes, my files are backed up, I think, but I would not know how to retrieve them. Besides, those video games, how can I survive without them?
But, for some reason, today it dawned on me in a new way, how changed life is. I thought of all those who are not part of the electronic age. I could feel the pages of the Yellow Phone Book, I could see myself going through the catalogue drawers at the library, of hearing real people on the phone from the getgo. I also thought of how my computer corrects my terrible spelling, enables me to correct things without whiteout, reaches across the miles in seconds. My phone lets me and everyone else with a “smart” phone take pictures anytime, anywhere. My poor old cameras sit unused for the most part along with the pictures they took which were somewhat special. Those of us who are older could go on and on with this in all directions.
Of course change happens, and we have to adapt. This change is huge, make no mistake, and we are not all wired to adapt. And something of a personal touch is missing. I don’t want to go back to the “good old days.” I do want to take some of what we had then with us into the future. I don’t want to lose our humanity. I want us to continue to like the feel of things. I want to love other people and need them more than my computer (or phone). I want us to care and be outraged and grieve and speak out when human life is considered expendable. I want us to weep over Gaza. I want truth to matter. I want “real” to mean something. I don’t want to care about “likes” or “followers.” I want to ditch the mass mob mentality for community. I want us to know that a person with “no likes” matters. That person could be any of us even when we are really liked in person.
Of course, I am only somewhat computer literate so that may color my views. My children and grandchildren know more than I do about these things and I value all the help I get. I still do know about other things. I like to think that life lessons matter.
Let the transition to our electronic age be incomplete, modified, judged by the soul in humanity, and, if one is a believer, by the Spirit of Holiness among us.