Last week I went downtown for the first time in several years and got stuck in a parking garage. All the employees had vanished and I couldn’t understand how I was to exit. Humans had been replaced by an electronic device that accepted credit cards only.
I must have sat too long reading the instructions on how to feed the machine, because the woman in the car behind me got out and offered to help. She told me to swipe my parking stub first and then my credit card. This I did and to my relief — and no doubt to the relief of the line of drivers behind me — the barrier rose, setting me free.
On the way home, I thought about the changes these electronics gadgets are making in our lives. The underlying assumption behind all of them seems to be that people want a faster and faster existence. We want fast cars, fast computers and fast food.
I know it’s foolish to blame machines for my consternation. They are reflections of ourselves, after all. Al Neuharth who launched USA Today in 1982, knew we lived frenzied lives back then. When traditional newspapers accused him of being the man whose abbreviated reporting shortened the attention spans of millions of Americans, he had a quick retort. “Our readers want to know a little about a lot of things, and they don’t want to waste a lot of time finding it out. “ (“The Publisher who revolutionized newspapers, “Obituaries,” The Week, 5/3/13, pg. 39)
Still, if I had to guess, I’d say the human mind isn’t meant to travel at warp speed for long. Eventually, it slows down. Given the growing number of elderly in our society, the young engineers and geeks who design these faster and faster contraptions may one day discover they’ve created a world few can comfortably inhabit. I know my aging brain likes to stop to smell the roses.
(Courtesy of pickingthebeast.blogspot.com)