BY MICHAEL REISIG –
The other day I was at a store that rents things. I chose to rent one of their things and the girl at the counter said I owed $4.57. So, I handed her fifty-seven cents and a ten-dollar bill. She immediately went to her electronic calculator to figure that out. I looked at her and said, “It’s really simple – the bill is $4.57. I gave you $10.57…” She stared at me for a moment, obviously challenged by the concept of having to figure this out without external help. Then she said, “Oh yeah, okay.” And handed me five dollars.
I shook my head. “No,” I said. “I gave you $10.57. The bill was $4.57. You owe me six dollars.” Thoroughly frustrated and a little embarrassed, she quickly gave me another dollar.
The young lady was a victim of her culture, a casualty in the march forward into the technicolored era of gadgets (mostly electronic). We are gradually becoming slaves to electronic and mechanical devices that do everything from entertaining, transporting, heating and cooling, educating, locating, informing, monitoring, and ultimately controlling us. The real problem is, we can’t see the forest for the electronic trees.
We are being lulled into this false sense of security – this staggeringly dangerous belief that in this new utopian world, no one will ever “pull the plug…”
But for all of you with that brand-new i-phone Morphie Juice Pack, or your Sony Smartwatch, or your Oculus Rift gaming headset almost permanently attached to your body, I know this seems like a ridiculous threat. Life is just too cool…
Architecture and design critic Reyner Banham once defined a gadget as: “A small self-contained unit of high performance in relation to its size and cost, whose function is to transform some undifferentiated set of circumstances to a condition nearer human desires. Gadgets, a class of servants to human needs, have colored American thought and action far more deeply than is commonly understood.”
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not standing on the corner with a cardboard sign saying “The End Is Near.” I’m saying, the danger is not in using something artificial – it’s in not knowing anything else. That’s impossibly dangerous. Hell, it’s frightening. We have an entire new generation who has no idea what long division is, that couldn’t multiply their way out of a paper bag. They live with their faces buried in some electronic device or another, almost constantly. They don’t understand how the device functions (other than on a highly peripheral level), and they see it as relatively omnipotent – it can answer most of their questions (which are relatively few to begin with), and they can’t imagine themselves without its guidance and communicative abilities. There, I’ve just described a Smartphone and God.
But here’s the real fly in the ointment. We live in a world besieged by angry religions and simmering racial conflict. While we’re being manipulated by starry-eyed politically correct politicians, our enemies are building delivery methods for Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons. When the first one of those goes off over Chicago, we can kiss every electronic device in America goodbye.
We’re an accident looking for a place to happen. Worse yet, we have an indolent, myopic new generation that doesn’t recognize any of the dangers in these rising perils. They’re too caught up in those little screens in front of them, and because of that, they have become remarkably easy to manipulate with propaganda. If there had been iphones in Nazi Germany, Hitler could have risen to power in half the time.
We are rapidly becoming an astigmatic society that seeks mindless entertainment over challenging responsibility. “Let someone else worry about tomorrow. Today, I have a Smartphone, a television, and a microwave. Who needs anything else?”
But what happens when the power goes out?