Technoslavery has reached new heights

TV commercial 1: A hand holds a mobile phone. The thumb reaches from lower right corner of screen to upper left, while a man’s voice tells us what an inspired design this is, and how it will make our lives so much more wonderful. (Never mind that it took four previous generations of iPhones to figure out something so obvious.)
TV commercial 2: A woman steps out of the shower and sees a floating screen in the room. Husband, brushing his teeth, comments about the way cable television subscribers are unable to simultaneously record 12 shows from 5 separate devices in 3 countries and watch them all at once. Or something like that. (Never mind that you could record every show on every channel in every nation on earth and still find that there’s nothing worth watching.)
TV commercial 3: Crowd waits in line to buy the latest trendy mobile phone. They watch two young men touch their phones together to share a music playlist and are secretly jealous. (Never mind that you’ll never actually use this life-changing feature.)
The point of all three commercials, and dozens more like them: Our lives are so much more difficult and inconvenient than they could be, if only we had all the latest devices and gadgets.
The reality of all three: Modern technology with all its trendy features is not going to improve your life in the slightest.
Remember way back in the dark ages of flip phones and iPods and Nikon cameras? Remember the dream of having all three devices combined into one — along with your computer files, email, address books, video games?
And then it happened. We all got touch-screen cellphones that take high definition movies (which we never make), play our collection of 5,000 songs (which we never listen to) and produce a thousand different fart sounds at the touch of a button (which I will not dignify with a comment).
It’s a revolution! How did we ever live without it!
Now step back another decade, when our phones were attached to wires, and we could only dream of taking them with us and being constantly in touch with our friends and family.
Take another step back, to the days when driving from town to town or flying from coast to coast seemed like a dream come true.
Yet the apparent freedom ushered in by each technological advancement of the last century turned into a new kind of slavery.
The marvel of the automobile meant we could now work across town and spend more of our lives in cars and more of our income on gas.
The miracle of flight gave us a global economy that could come crashing down at any moment when energy costs become too great.
The wonder of radio — then television, video games, and the Internet — produced the couch potato and several generations who can’t carry on an intelligent conversation.
And now, the cellphone sensation has taken technoslavery to new heights, as young girls gossip via text rather than voice, and young boys have countless new ways to waste precious hours, and kids would sooner die in a fiery crash than pry their fingers from their phones.
Human life is easier, more fun, and more fulfilling than ever, yet our society, the pinnacle of human civilization, is plagued with mental illness, ignorance, poverty, obesity and addiction.
As a wise man once said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” I would add this: Irony of ironies, no one talks on the phone anymore.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.
This column was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger on Oct. 23, 2012.


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