IMessages To Nowhere?


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My wife missed an appointment for a massage recently. She just plain forgot it. Her massage was for 10 a.m. At 8 a.m., the therapist texted to remind her of the appointment. My wife doesn’t regulary check her texts (nor do I). When the therapist had not gotten a confirmation by, say 9 a.m., one thinks she’d have called. She didn’t. At 10 a.m., my wife found the text and called her (on the telephone). No answer. So she texted her, and 15 minutes later, she texted back a reply: “no problem.” A phone call where a real voice reached another real voice would have avoided all of this.

Texting and its big brother, email, have pretty much killed voice communication, and that’s too bad. What do I do every morning and before I go to bed? Check my emails, that’s what. Texts only get checked if they arrive while I’m carrying my cellphone because their arrival makes a funny musical noise. I watched two of our friends visiting us at our house sit on the sofa and text each other. You cannot make this stuff up.

I went on the web to find a technology quote that would address this situation. There are many, but the closest I could find was by Thomas Clausen, who said, “I love technology and what they call progress except for when it inconveniences us and over-rides common sense.” This quote touched two of them — inconvenienced the therapist and totally over-rode common sense — which cried out for her to pick up the phone.

Remember when telephones were attached to a land line? Growing up, we had a wall phone in the kitchen, an extension upstairs in Mom and Dad’s bedroom. This sufficed. Those who wanted to reach us did so by calling TU4-6610. If we weren’t home, they called back. The world did not end. Is it progress that we are now slaves to our phones and will go nowhere without them for fear of missing a message? When I first got a cellphone, I kept it in the glove compartment of my car in the event my wife was on the road and needed to call for help.

Once you watched your TV free of charge. OK, so you only got seven or eight channels and, sometimes, the reception was fuzzy. But there in your living room sat this wonderful innovation that provided visual entertainment. Then came cable. We first signed up with Prism so our kids could watch MTV and I could watch extra sports. Then came full-blown cable — Comcast, Fios, others. All of a sudden, the world was your oyster (the oyster cost a lot of money, but you got first-run movies and other good stuff).

I think we now get over 1,300 channels and, often, can find nothing to watch. But wait. Technology again reared its ugly head and your regular cable was no longer good enough. Now, even better shows were available to you on more expensive cable. It only costs money, much more of it. Many people are baffled as to how to access it from their “smart” TV, which, of course, is now smarter than they are. Progress?

As a young man, I could keep my own car running — change the spark plugs, the oil, fan belts and so on. And if I couldn’t, my sons or the local service station, Al Cors, Bob Dieterly, Gene Riley, guys like that took care of the problem. Service stations are pretty much gone. Gas-only stations replaced them. They’ve given way to lube specialists, tire stores, dealer service departments (did you make an appointment?). Why? Because you need to be a mechanical engineer to figure out today’s cars.

Growing up and going to school, if I needed to look something up, I went to our set of encyclopedias. Failing that, I went to the library — either the one in the community or our school library. Seen any encyclopedias lately? When did you last go to the library — any library? All you need do now is Google the information. If the internet goes kaput, so does your information highway, and you plunge in to a panic mode. Everything is gone.

We have become addicted to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. In the past, if you wanted to argue with someone or spread some information, you did it in the old traditional ways. Now social media, which depends on your computer or your phone, allows you to get in to arguments with people you don’t even know over topics that neither they nor you fully understand. There are good things (I belong to a baseball history group) but more than enough bad. Fake news? Sure, whatever that is. People with agendas? People who love President Trump, people who don’t. People that make stuff up as they go along.

I am not a kid any more. I didn’t need technology growing up and, frankly, don’t need much of it now. I understand it, deal with it when I have to. I use it when it suits me. But the people I feel sorry for are the older folks who, as they reach the twilight of their days, are baffled by the internet, flustered by cable TV (what is Hulu? Amazon Prime? Netflix?) and are totally baffled by the broad spectrum of new technology.

Maybe some of this goes to explaining why LPs (you know, those big vinyl records — 33 1/3rd things) and old-style radios are making such a big comeback. I know people with antenna TVs (no cable at all). Maybe, just maybe, people are not so sure that new is better and are seeking comfort in the old. And, you know what, that’s not a bad idea.

Listen to Ted Taylor Tuesdays on WRDV FM (89.3) from 8 a.m. to noon or contact him at tedtaylorinc@comcast.net.

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