I smile every time I read something about simplifying our lives, conveyed online, usually on a blog, harping on Zen or the like, yet dependent on high tech. That's not to say I don't admire writer Wendell Berry, who eschews TV and computers, writes everything out, since he practices a consistency I admire, though choose not to practice. I may admire Thoreau, but I'm not for building a cabin in the woods or begging the Amish to show me in. I will not give up my computer.
Can you imagine a world without the computer? Actually, I can't do it, as it's become a staple of my daily life with its untold benefits. I think it's probably the same for you. This holiday season, for example, we've been able to Skype with our children on the West Coast, and for free. I don't know about you, but we did our Christmas shopping all online. Smiles come to our faces every time we drive past our biggest mall with its jammed parking.
If we want quick info, there's Google or Wikipedia.
Want to find a good movie, starting times, prices, you've got it.
Want to stick around the house instead, then you can stream that movie right into your computer, iPad, or television.
Get a reserved seat for a concert or sports event? No problem.
Like a good book or music album? At your finger tips.
Like to travel and at the best fares? Good lodging? Car rentals? Try Orbitz, Expedia and the like, or go direct to the airlines themselves.
Me, I'm a news buff and draw on my iPad for my daily fix.
Computers are also changing the way we learn, and present in virtually every school. Computers are making college accessible for millions, especially working adults. As a retired educator, I know this area first hand, having taught several courses online.
When it comes to having a bit of fun, it's exciting to play scrabble, chess or bridge with others across the globe; or in your privacy, play mind games such as Sudoku, WhirlyWords, and Ladder; do crossword puzzles, or for just sheer fun, have a go at Angry Birds. No need for guilt here about wasted time. Medicine increasingly tells us that playing these games keeps our minds young, our reflexes nimble, and may even ward off dementia.
Some say computers are lessening our social contact. Unfounded in my book, what with Facebook and Twitter, along with countless chat sites offering a wide range of interests. I ride an MP3 500 Piaggio scooter. Sure enough, there's a forum dedicated to my scooter. Believe me, I couldn't ride without it.
Time Magazine has just selected "The Protestor" as its annual person of the year for 2011, a year that began with the Arab Spring and the subsequent collapse of entrenched tyrannies in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; incipient revolts in Syria and in Russia; and in our own country, the groundswell of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon. All of these dynamic, history shaping movements have been, and are, energized by the Internet's capacity to publicize and coordinate universally in mega seconds. Isolating us? I think not.
I like languages and I'm crazy about Spanish. With a computer, I can now listen, read, and share one of the world's most spoken languages.
And let me not forget my being able to blog with you guys out there across the globe, a number of you responding via Twitter. By the way, my largest number of readers next to Americans, happens to be those of you in Russia, followed by Germany. The Internet makes this togetherness possible, and I rejoice in my new brothers and sisters.
If you asked me what I thought was the greatest of tech break-throughs, I'd be hard-pressed. They all build on each other: Gutenberg's movable press, widening reader access; the steam engine, ushering in the Industrial Revolution and leading to railroads and, eventually, to cars and trucks; the typewriter, electric light, radio, telephone, TV. Don't forget the airplane. How about the miracle of movies, today's primary art form? The list goes on. I can't really say which has been the most ground-breaking, but I do know computers, enhanced by the World Wide Web and its HTML linkage, has made all of us players in the modern landscape.
Gotta go now. Got emails to send out!