This week, we're trying out a column submission from our San Saba paper that is all about computers. I couldn't help but reflect that over 20 years ago, I also wrote a technology column that appeared in the Mason County News called "Cow Chips." It was at a time when people in Mason didn't yet have internet access, most people did not really know how to use the computers they owned, and cell phones only made phone calls.
I'll be interested to hear your response to this new column and to see if you, the readers, still have the same passion for technology that you exhibited all those decades ago when I began sharing my knowledge with you.
You don't need to be a close friend of mine to know that I'm a geek, through and through. I have PCs, tablets, ereaders, smart phones and all other types of computerized devices. Not only do I won a plethora of devices, I actually understand how they work, why they are useful, and how they can work together to make my life a bit easier, if I allow them to. Of course, the trade off is that I have to be careful to make sure they don't end up controlling my life.
I just read this morning of the Florida man who was texting during the previews at a movie theater and was shot and killed by another movie patron who found the texting a distraction he could not abide.
On a daily basis, I watch people walking around town with their heads down, thumbs furiously working keys on their phones. At a moment's notice, they can pull up information about everything that is around them. Sadly, they don't really see all those surroundings, as they are too absorbed in their phone to notice the real world.
For many years, I've heard the ongoing debates about allowing children to spend countless hours in front of the television or video games rather than enjoying running and playing outdoors. Currently, it's just as common to see children with an iPad or other tablet in their hands playing games, watching movies and generally failing to participate in the world that surrounds them.
Many years ago when I would come home for visits, friends and family would jump on every opportunity to make fun of the cell phone that I kept close at hand. They couldn't imagine why anyone would need to remain constantly connected to the rest of the world, or tied to it, by the presence of a telephone. When I look now at people in restaurants, stores and walking the square, they are often engaged in conversation on their phones. Rather than enjoying the present company, they choose to engage in a chat with someone that is not present.
When visitors come to Mason, they eagerly seek out places with wifi and good cell phone data signals. Even when they're sitting in a hunting stand, they will have their phone close at hand, texting fellow hunters to compare what they're seeing and how the hunt is proceeding. This in opposition to the attitude of only a few years earlier when visitors reveled in the chance to "step away" from telephones, faxes, emails, television,,,, from everything that seemed to rule their daily lives when they were at home.
As big a fan as I am of all of my devices and gadgets, I understand that they should have a time and a place. I enjoy knowing that when I head down on the river, I tend to be out of cell phone range. That means that I can't receive phone calls, nor can I toy with my phone or tablet, looking up news stories or reading about the latest political scandals. For those short periods of time, I am able to enjoy the people and things that are around me in the moment.
One of the joys of being such a supreme geek is that I am aware that even if I should be "out of touch" with the world for short periods of time, it will return soon enough. I know that my many doodads and gadgets are tools to help me in life, not necessities that should rule my life.
Enjoy all the wonderful benefits of our technologically advanced world; but, don't hesitate to remember that we have existed without all of those things for centuries, and we can exist without them for a few hours or a few days when they are unavailable, unnecessary or unwanted.
It’s all just my opinion.