We No Longer Fix Things
When I was about fourteen years old, our rotary dial phone stopped working. It made a quiet buzz, but the loud, attention getting ring was missing.
"Do you think you can fix it?" my mother asked with some degree of optimism in her question, likely because she had observed me building my amateur radio equipment. Living on a farm also contributed to the logic of repair since that's what farmers do... they fix things. Or at least they used to.
Using a Phillips screwdriver and my favorite needle-nose pliers I dismantled the device, adjusted a few screws and had the ring back again. Interestingly, I didn't have to spend twenty minutes selecting a new ringtone. What you had was what you got.
It's not that simple now.
If we can't fix a non-working electronic device by a software update or talking to the guy in India, we hope our two-year contract is up and we qualify for an upgrade. If that's the case, our life is stable again and we get on with texting, watching viral videos of cats, babies or the most recent "cop shoots kid" event.
Our old, hard-wired phones did only one thing; they made calls. They didn't tell us where we were, had no calculator or act as a camera or flashlight. They couldn't even hook up to Google... errrr... wait... Google hadn't been invented yet.
On the other hand, those old klunkers didn't spy on us, give out personal information to the bad guys or become an addictive EED. (Electronic Enjoyment Device)
The good, the bad and the ugly.
Whether being held Linus-blanket-like in our hands or hidden in the deep recesses of our car, smart devices have become the ubiquitous necessity of our age. As long as a cell tower is in electronic sight hikers no longer need to worry about moss on the northwest side of trees, travelers never have to meet interesting people who give verbal directions to the best diner in town or we never have to interpret body language or voice inflection as conversations are reduced to text-language acronyms.
Who really cares? Life is good, especially when Facebook allows us to share with all our electronic friends that we just went to Walmart and recognized the greeter as our next door neighbor. LOL!
Sometimes I wonder... maybe a good EMP would be a welcome event, forcing us to rekindle (pun intended) the skill of critical thinking.
And if you don't know what that last sentence means, there is always Google.