Long Energy Homeowner Rebate $2,000

Whittling Away: Technology


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

There is no question that technology is a good thing. Without it and the search for it, humans would still be hunkered down in caves somewhere in the Middle East. 

The older I get, however, the more some of it annoys me. I’m getting a case of “Terminatoritis,” a fear that the machines are taking over. The more machines do for mankind, the less mankind has to do for itself — they’re getting smarter, we’re getting dumber and fatter. All this convenience = unburned calories. We’ve got automatic everythings and we take them for granted and don’t see them as exercise grabbers.

Cases in point:

  • Electric toothbrushes: We used to get a pretty good workout to start the day — in and out, up and down, a person into dental hygiene could work up quite a lather.
  • Automatic toasters — You used to have to sit near the toaster and keep opening the side doors to check on your browning bread; now you just poke the bread in, push the little handles down and walk away. 
  • Automatic door openers — Getting into a big building used to require swinging a 500-pound door open, sometimes with your arms full of packages or groceries, good for both muscles and coordination. 
  • Automatic transmissions — Driving a car years ago required a never-ending dance; push clutch in, move the shift lever, let the clutch out. Now, America is filled with shiftless folks who just sit there eating their doughnuts and hamburgers.
  •  Calculators — When was the last time you did some honest-to-goodness math?  You know, like back in the fifth grade, when you knew the multiplication tables by heart.  I wonder how many people will be doing their taxes this year with a paper and pencil?  Brains need exercise, too.
  • Prepared foods — I know we’re all in a rush but when was the last time you ate something prepared from scratch with no boxes or cans involved. 
  • Remote controls — There was a time when folks wanted to change the channel on the TV that they actually got out of their chair and walked to the box and turned the knob.  You had to do the same thing to turn it on and off. Now you can control everything from your chair, including the family pet if you get one of those zapper collars (wonder if they’d work on naughty children?). In some households, it looks like remote controls breed on the coffee table. 
  • Treadmills — With machines doing all this work for us, we need to exercise so a lot of people are buying treadmills — with electric motors. The machine does the work and the human just runs along trying to keep up, kind of like a dog on a leash.
  • Automatic dishwashers — I was considered one when I was a kid, now there are complaints about who is going to toss the dishes in the thing and take them out. 

The list goes on and on. Seems like some machine is always yelling at me, starting with the alarm clock in the morning. In the “good old days,” if your alarm clock annoyed you, you ate it.  The stove and microwave both holler to come look when they’ve done their job. My car tells me to put my seat belt on and beeps at me when it’s getting low on fuel. 

It’s taken me six months to learn which button to push on my wife’s cell phone when I want to talk and now they’ve got ones that you can not only talk on but take nifty close up pictures of your right eye while you’re emailing somebody else. 

The rings on the darn things drive me crazy, too. A phone ought to make a nice solid ringing sound — not play Beethoven’s Fifth or Ring-Around the-Rosy when it wants to be answered.

The ultimate machine annoyance is — in my slightly bent mind — the self-flushing toilet.  There are just some things a person feels capable of doing by himself. The first one I ran into, I must have spent 10 minutes trying to find the handle but all I could find was this little glass eye, I finally gave up and stepped away and FLUSH! I stepped closer to take a closer look and when I stepped back — FLUSH again. 

I don’t like or trust the things and I can’t get over the feeling that I’m being watched while I’m in one. 

The first one I come to that has an automatic bidet attachment with no warning sign and I’m going back to the old reliable, non-automatic two-hole outhouse.

Thought for the week — Those who live by the sword… get shot by those who don’t.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at whittle12124@yahoo.com.

Related Posts