In 1987 I had just finished my training in the Army and I was given orders to report to Ft. Wainwright, AK as my first duty assignment. I was then at Ft. Dix, NJ; I had just bought a used 1979 Mustang coupe for $435.00. I remember getting the oil changed and putting on some new tires for my drive from NJ to New Orleans, LA to visit family. After spending a couple of weeks visiting friends and family I had to leave and head to my duty assignment in Fairbanks, AK. I didn’t have a credit card, a GPS or a cell phone and yet I made it, with traveler’s checks and a good old fashion road map (who in their right mind would drive a four hundred dollar vehicle over 4500 miles through a foreign country (Canada) today?). As a matter of fact I am not even sure if GPS existed back then or at least not for consumers in my income class (did I mention that I was a soldier?).
We now have all the technology that we could ever ask for and what has it turned us into? We are less courteous to one another, most of us really don’t know our neighbors like we used to and our kids don’t seem to be able to verbally communicate at a level that a 9 year old could when I was growing up. I can definitely say that being 41 years old I have seen cell phones come of age and take off. I have seen the personal computer become affordable to most households and I have definitely notice the difference in the gaming systems…anyone remember Atari? Beeps…beep….beep…lol. We now have kids that refuse to go outside and play; their video consoles and hand held devices allow them to play with their friends without ever leaving their rooms (wireless connections). We have truly become a weaker society even though we have grown exponentially in technological advances.
If someone reading this can tell me that they have actually grown closer to their neighbors in 2010 than they were in 1990 (obviously you have to be at least 40yrs old) then you are truly blessed. The majority of us haven’t. I had an elderly lady who lived right across the street from me who died and I didn’t even know it until weeks later when I saw someone taking furniture out of her house. How shameful is that? When I was growing up in New Orleans this could have never happened. We used to sit out on the porch and talk with our neighbors and play in the streets (we didn’t have fancy back yards with privacy fences to keep the neighbors prying eyes out) and we knew everyone up and down the street. Now I have met and spoken a few times to 3 of my neighbors. So I am not blaming them for the lack of closeness but I am baffled at how we have gotten to this point. So I truly wondering has technology made us better.
Are we friendlier now? Do we still have manufacturing jobs now? Or, here is a good one, when is the last time you visited a travel agent to reserve or purchase travel arrangements? In Medicine some of the breakthroughs in robotic surgery has been a tremendous help to patients and has reduce recovery time for certain operations by weeks. I am not one crying for the good old days or saying how much better life was back then. I do however make the observation in terms of humanity and the way we now deal with each other. Does anyone still go next door to borrow sugar? lol (that might just be a down south thing, I live in Kansas now). So although I will not pass judgment on our society’s behavior today under the influence of modern technology; I will still ask the question, on a whole has technology made us better people? Do we treat each other better than we do our internet friends? I may be different then most because I spent 21 years as a nomad living around the globe where ever Uncle Sam sent me so I can only speak from my experiences. I will however ask you to make a conscious effort to treat the people that you live next to as though you truly want to be in a community with them just as much or more than we treat our online world of electronic friends who couldn’t give us a cup of sugar over the fence even if they wanted to.