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Loran Smith Columnist

Published Thursday, August 19, 2010

Technology -- before and after

Technology is overwhelming us. If you don't adjust and get out of the way, it will steamroll over you. It will leave you flailing in its dust.

When I think about computer technology and what you can accomplish with the Internet, I am amazed, but the side effects of this progress sometimes are not so pleasant. There are those who take delight in spreading computer viruses. Like those who would throw sand in cogwheels or put sugar in a radiator. Those who would tamper with the seals on medicine or foodstuffs.

But back to the Internet. You can look up anything and everything. While the Internet does provide marvelous convenience, I certainly hope the day won't come that libraries will be forced to close their doors.

One thing I don't like about the Internet is that you can say the wildest, meanest things about a person without their having any recourse. You can spread a lie, without any basis of fact, on the Internet. Sometimes lies get traction.

There is more to be concerned about when it comes to technology. It is eliminating all privacy. It is accentuating impatience and bringing about a culture of insensitivity and ill manners. We are becoming a society which does not return phone calls unless you think there's something in it for you. We don't answer e-mails unless it appears important to us. We text while we drive.

No person in business today, no matter what it is, can survive without the computer and technology, which can make you much more efficient. I like computers, but I'm not into all that other stuff. Like Twitter, Facebook and the like. I value my privacy and don't want exposure to a plethora of other e-mail accounts whose proponents can slam me with their right-wing political views, Obama bashing and tired humor, which I brushed up against years ago.

I don't want to go back in time. How could we live without air conditioning now? Aren't we grateful that carbon paper has become extinct? Who among us could endure life without indoor plumbing?

Having said that, I think there is to something to be said for the days when we drank water from a well. A Coca-Cola from the small bottle was a real treat. We didn't curse like sailors in routine conversation. We opened the car door for ladies. The bottom line was important -- but we didn't worship it. We didn't have to lock our doors. We enjoyed our front porch swing. We watched television for news and entertainment -- not garbage and political agendas. We wore a coat and tie when we boarded an airplane. Gardens were in style -- even in town. We took our kids with us into the woods and cut our own Christmas tree. You got out of line in school and were punished -- your parents agreed with your principal. The nearest thing to a sex magazine was the Sears Roebuck catalogue. You could take your kids shopping and not have to worry about lurking sexual predators. A bicycle at Christmas was as important as an SUV is today. Kids shot marbles at recess. Outdoor activity and the work ethic rendered obesity unheard of. The circus was our DisneyWorld. We played baseball without uniforms and with equipment enhanced by friction tape. TV evangelism had not been invented. If there weren't four different vegetables on the table for lunch and dinner, you didn't have a full meal. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were our movie heroes. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were our sports heroes. Steroids were unheard of. Reading involved checking a book out of the library and devouring it with great urgency so that you could return it the next week and check out another one. Perusing the funny pages was good reason for subscribing to a newspaper.

Politicians stole, but on a smaller scale.

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