Tag Archive for: technology

How often in a day do you get a text from somebody, especially young somebodies, that you have to decipher? It’s like a paragraph of acronyms. But worse. It’s TextSpeak. Or would that be txt spk? Not only do they not use real words, they see no need for capitalization or punctuation. “hi c u sn bty need $” Where will it stop?

We already know kids aren’t being taught cursive in school. How long before they don’t know how to spell at all? Or write at all? Will there soon be a day when we walk into nursery school and see all the toddlers with iPads (maybe called totPads), learning basic communication with abbreviated words and emojis? Kids already text when they are in the same room with their friends; will oral communication become a thing of the past? Will our larynxes shrivel up as we evolve? I can see it now. In the distant future, giant thumbs on legs are studying archeological remains. They have found the missing link, a race of beings from the 21st Century. Odd creatures these ancients; they have long torsos with a slender apparatus upholding an orb on which are located the eyes, nose and eating orifice. In the apparatus is some bony structure. “wht cud this hav been used 4,” one archeologist texts to another.

This train of thought all began when I ran out to the store to get stationery. I wanted to write a letter to my mother-in-law, but realized I had no dedicated writing paper. All I had was copy paper for the printer and some legal pads yellowing with age. How long had it been since I had actually hand written a letter? Far too long, obviously, as I soon found that stationery had become an endangered commodity. Walmart had notebook paper, but no letter paper. I tried Walgreen’s and was momentarily buoyed when I spotted a sign proclaiming just such a dedicated section. What I found was a selection of envelopes of various sizes, mostly larger padded mailers. An office supply store then, I thought, but found the very same scenario.

A Google search yielded sources of “vintage” letter writing paper. I quickly ordered a supply, wondering what will happen when I follow through on threats of shutting down my Internet and stepping back to simpler times where you go to a store to find things. I can’t depend on grocery sacks to write on; it’s mostly plastic bags these days. I guess I will have to use the backs of junk mail until the postal service becomes obsolete. Then it won’t matter anyway, as there will be no way to send written missives. I will have to get in the car and go visit whoever I want to communicate with. Which isn’t such a bad thing. I only hope they still remember how to use their larynx when I get there.

I didn’t want to wait another minute to write my letter, now that I knew how unsure the writing future had become, so I improvised. I wrote a progressive letter on a series of aging notecards I found in a cubbyhole of my writing desk. OMG!! TTYL

I keep getting notices in the mail from my insurance informing me that I can save time and energy by not bothering to go to a clinic when I am sick. I can just call up Teladoc. Right! If I want someone to just guess what may be wrong, I can call my sister. I hear there are also virtual clinics. I will want a virtual doctor when I have a virtual illness. If I am sick or hurting somewhere in this flesh-and-bone body, I want a flesh-and-bone doctor to see me, take my temperature, get a blood sample maybe, pat my arm, or say, “Does this hurt?” Or all of that.

I have not used the Teladoc service, so I can’t say it is good or bad; I just know I don’t want it. I know from experience that appendicitis can feel a lot like a stomach virus. How can a doctor on my phone or a website tell the difference without ever seeing me?

And think of this. What if it’s the first step to replacing real doctors with robots, and even then you don’t actually get to go into a clinic and see your primary robot. You can get a RoboMed app for your smart phone. I don’t want to pick up my phone and say, “Hey, Robodoc, I have a pain in my right leg. What’s up with that?” Robodoc may diagnose me with bone cancer when I actually have a torn meniscus. Or vice versa.

Now, I have admitted—right on this platform, in fact—that I have technophobic tendencies. I think my phone is eavesdropping and my computer is spying. Microwaves may be frying my brain and even electricity may be short circuiting my physiological wiring. I openly proclaim that I want to go back to a phone on the wall with an answering machine. A cell phone where you can be found anywhere is just an electronic cowbell. I don’t want to be called when I am in the produce aisle, or the toilet. At most, a cell phone should be an emergency device when you are on a trip. A pre-paid flip phone would work for that. I have a road atlas; I don’t need GPS on my phone. Besides, my car is already equipped with enough “helpful” devices to get me where I need to go, call emergency services, spy on me, and play my favorite music.

While I am on this soapbox, I will go further. We are a nation–maybe a world—of people who think everything should be instant and easy. I saw a sign proclaiming a drive-through window to pick up ashes for Ash Wednesday. Really? Maybe we should just do away with churches altogether and have a Salvation App for the fundamentalists, ConfessaPhone for the Catholics, and WatchtowerWeb for Jehovah’s Witnesses. We already have Amazon for shopping, and Waitr and GrubHub for meals. Folks who can telecommute for work need never leave home at all. Ever. If they miss their friends or family, they can just Skype or FaceTime. Is it just me, or is this an unhealthy path we are on?

I am protesting. I am going to unplug my microwave, go grocery shopping, pop in at a chapel, visit a friend face to face, eat at a restaurant, then stop and make an appointment with a doctor, any doctor. My cell phone is not going with me. And tonight I am reading a bona fide hard-cover book instead of streaming four episodes of Grace and Frankie.

Take that, technology.