“Even when you take a break from technology, technology doesn't take a break from you.”
— Douglas Coupland
Friends, have you ever taken one of those I.Q. or personality tests hidden in the pages of a waiting room magazine? Most will allow you to know what level of genius you are or what occupation would best suit you. The answers are usually interesting but no matter what our brains may rate on a sliding scale, I think it’s time that we all agree that perhaps we have outsmarted ourselves.
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What I’m getting at here is that technology has advanced to the point where no product in our modern-day consumer culture is beyond an upgrade. Obviously our “smart” phones are a constant reminder that sooner than later, computers, and by extension robots, will inevitably rise up and take over and as if to help their cause we allow our top scientists to find ways of computerizing and digitizing every aspect of our everyday lives. Now I will concede that with the advancement of the internet things like reading and the disseminating of information is much more efficient when used electronically, but that doesn’t always mean that adding a computer chip is going to improve our lives.
I can even prove my point with a quiz like in those magazines. See if you can guess what household appliance I’m describing just from its amenities. First, it comes with Wifi, an internet connection, can send you texts, has laser scanners, a remote control, and even has mood lighting installed with music to enhance your experience. If you said I’m describing a television or perhaps a stereo, you’d be wrong. Believe it or not the product I had in mind is called the Toto Neorest, and I almost hate to have to say it but, it’s a toilet. Yes, sadly, there are commodes out there with more computing power than the space shuttle, and here you were thinking that you were splurging by buying a toilet seat that was cushioned. Guess again.
You know we’ve gone too far with technology when you have to call an electrician instead of a plumber to come unclog a backup. We have smartphones, smartwatches, smart speakers and sleep number beds. No joke, just putting an “I” or “E” in front of your products name automatically makes it seem that much more advanced. There is E-commerce and E-cigarettes. There’s I-phones, I-pads and even I-clouds which begs the question: if nature has gone digital does this mean that Mother Nature could very well have her own Facebook page? And, if so, can I become friends with her?
And we treat these gadgets with kid gloves. Our phones are plugged into "cradles" at night and we don’t shut down our laptops but instead let them go into "sleep" mode. Granted some of these advances are truly amazing, and perhaps I’m being old fashioned, but when I’m reading in the bathroom, I feel it should be from a magazine not a text coming from directly underneath me.
Auburn native Bradley Molloy’s column appears here each Sunday. He can be reached at email@example.com