A haiku over on Howard's page started me thinking. I'm not sure what makes me think, but generally reading something of his starts me on an internal dialogue that I sometimes take external. A brief exchange in his comments section lit the fuse. The haiku goes:
thank you for the things
none of us will ever need
that draw us in like sheep
(reprinted without permission)
The object, of course, hinges on the annual Christmas shopping frenzy that retailers call Black Friday. I've written about it enough to qualify me as a nuisance, and one more essay isn't going to help anybody.
During our comment/dialogue, (which you can read by clicking here) Howard posed the question: I wonder how stunted our entire society would be if we suddenly had to do without cell phones or our online infrastructure for a few days, or a few hours?
That brought to mind the great sacrifice (the word "sacrifice" was used in the press release) of several celebrities who are going without Twitter and Facebook for a whole day! I'm sure our troops in the Mideast and men and women serving prison sentences could learn from the sacrifice being made by those brave celebrities.
I often feel trapped by devices, and willingly have been led into the world of cell phones and netbooks. In fact, I'm writing this on my netbook. The common refrain from people on the other end of the cell phone usually goes, "Where were you? You didn't answer your phone." Since I do not have a land line, my cell phone is my only phone, and people expect it to be attached to my hip 24/7, when in fact, it's on silent mode 16/6. The initial convenience brought about by the cell phone has turned to a nuisance as people expect me to be constantly available. I wasn't constantly available before I had a cell phone, so there is no reason to expect I will be constantly available now.
The Internet has grown from technology to necessity, which is both good and bad. Conveniences like banking, e-mail and shopping are fraught with the potential for identity theft and e-mail scams. The mind boggles at the number of ways Internet schemers have come up with to try to separate us from our money. What they don't realize is that we are doing a good enough job on our own without any external aid.
All of those conveniences, which include cable television, are costing people an extra $250 a month that we feel is a fair value for the nuisance of technology. It's the girlfriend whose smoking hot body and free sex don't balance with the gigantic pain in the ass that she is. We put up with 6 hours of pain for 1 hour of pleasure.
I can't help but wonder how all of this stuff has made us happier. Maybe that's because it really hasn't? It's the world's largest peer pressure group. Do without a cell phone, Internet service and/or cable and you'll get that quizzical look like when you make a high-pitched whistling sound in front of a dog. The head cocks and they wonder "why not?"
But we're in. We're in to the point that Wi-Fi service is available at fast food places, cell phones are so pervasive that they have made laws and almost nothing worthwhile is on regular network television. You are lost in the world without those things. Monday Night Football is on cable now, your friends want to text message you and somebody just sent you an e-mail. No technology? No life.
OK, maybe that's a little harsh. But if you're reading this, it means you're into the Internet/computer deal, and I'd bet that you have a cell phone as well. Add in that the government made cable the standard a year ago and viola, dependence and bills. I think it's at least part of the reason regular wage earners are chest-deep in debt. There are a lot more bills than we used to have, and our incomes haven't kept up with the rate of innovation. And you know, we have to have this stuff.
Think about it the next time your cell phone reception blacks out, your Internet connection is slow or your cable goes out. Whatever will you do?