The Roundup -

Ah Yes, Technology


Normally as I work through a typical day, the differences in age and the inevitable clash of outlook on the working life doesn’t exist as far as job production goes. The dedicated people perform their jobs to the best of their abilities, while the slackers, regardless of age, seek to get through a day doing as little as possible. For the most part, age makes very little difference in productivity during an average day on the job.

Every once in a blue moon, however, something happens that completely separates the oldsters from the youngsters. I’m thinking of a day on the job a few weeks ago. It began as a normal day, but suddenly about two in the afternoon, we completely and simultaneously lost land line phones, cell phone communications, and the internet service. I mean we lost them, totally and completely, all at the same time. We had no communication devices whatsoever that worked.

This occurrence didn’t faze me in the least, I actually felt a little gleeful that I had an excuse not to keep pounding away at the computer. The one other older person in the office felt the same way. Hey, this was a bit of a break for us. No one could call us, whining about anything at all, or contact us asking for something. What a great event! We reveled in the freedom.

However, the younger generation at the office had no idea how to behave or what to do. I could almost feel the rising tide of panic as one of the youngsters realized she had no link whatsoever to the outside world with any of her technological paraphernalia. She said to me with great anxiety, ‘We are isolated! We are cut off! We have no way of contacting anybody!’

I thought the poor child would break down in tears. When she voiced her concerns to me, I started to laugh. I didn’t mean to belittle her consternation but at the same time it highlighted today’s total dependence on technology. I gently told this frightened colleague that she need not panic. We were NOT isolated, we were not out of communication with the rest of the world, and that we could easily walk or drive to Virginia City where we would find a lot of people, if in fact we needed to find them, which we did not.

I attempted to explain to this young lady that I grew up without relying on technology; that no cell phone, texting, or internet even existed when I was a child, youth, and young adult. We also routinely lost land line service for whatever reason, and no one ever panicked. As well, if we were not within earshot of the land line phone when it rang, we never knew anyone had called, as answering machines were still in our future. And you know what? We survived. We never felt isolated, lonely, or cut off from civilization. We enjoyed our solitude. We made it without technology, we had friends and family, we were not in constant communication with someone or another, and we were just fine. Instant and constant communications would have driven me mad.

This brings up another point. The virtues of solitude, the idea that we can actually like and trust ourselves enough to spend precious time alone, out of contact if you will, and have only ourselves for company.

Personally, I love solitude. I require it if I am not to go absolutely crazy. I need time by myself, with no one around to jabber and disrupt me, and this includes interruptions by text and by phone conversations. Without solitude, how else can I rejuvenate, think through problems or troubling situations, reflect on my life, or decide what course of action to pursue? I can only center myself and calm myself down by inner reflection that comes with solitude, not by chattering on the phone or endless texting.

Youngsters don’t understand the concept of solitude. Solitude differs greatly from loneliness. Solitude means reveling in time alone, taking stock, communing with your inner self. A person can feel acute loneliness in the midst of a crowd, but solitude never feels lonely. It feels right with the world, right with nature and our surroundings, and right with our souls.

Technology has its good points. We have a wealth of easily accessible knowledge at our fingertips. Want to know the answer to a question? Google it, and within a minute we have an answer of some sort. I used to have to use an encyclopedia to find answers. A person can’t very well carry an encyclopedia in her pocket, like we can carry our technological devices, so instead of waiting to look up some information, we have instant answers to many questions.

Technology allows us to work faster and smarter in some ways, but people also tend to grow dependent on this easy access, rapid information gathering, and instant communications. People forget what solitude means, they forget how to listen to themselves, they forget how to handle situations by using only their own good sense. Technological gadgets contribute to individuals who cannot function without some sort of electronic instrument in their hands or within easy reach at all times.

Technology is a great tool. However, it ought to be just that, a tool. It truly cannot replace face-to-face conversations, and people do NOT need technology in order to survive and to successfully navigate through a day.


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