Slaves to the rhythm, by Alison Dormaar

Guest post from Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

I don’t know about everyone else, but advances in technology nowadays leaves me feeling somewhat dense. Every six months or so, it seems a new ‘application’, ‘program’ or hi tech device hits our market and, being the novelty junkies that modern people are, we all rush out to buy. Whether or not we really need the latest Swiss army knife style pager, I-pad or I-phone with cameras, Wi-Fi, Internet, searchlights, Skype, cigarette lighters and God knows what else all included is a matter for debate. The thing is, we have somehow convinced ourselves we cannot live without them.

How on earth has humanity managed to survive, if not flourish, for the past million or so years without these wonders of scientific advancement? Well, somehow we have and what’s more, I’d say we’ve done pretty well. Even thousands of years after the event, people still marvel over such ancient feats of genius such as the pyramids, and if one goes inside hallowed places such as the Sistine Chapel and oooh and ahhh over its masterly creation, it is worth remembering that Michelangelo and his assistants did it all without any hi-tech devices whatsoever.

When one watches teenagers strolling about feverishly clicking away at their cellphones or fiddling maniacally with their I-pods as if their very lives depended on them, it does become apparent that humanity has inflicted a new and merciless master on itself. We love to give ourselves the illusion we have it all under control – we cover our small, demanding devices with colourful and personalized covers, we regularly change the dial tones, we hang charms and other nick-nacks off them to proclaim our mastery – and yet, each time that little tyrant beeps in your pocket, you are all too desperate to instantly obey. One can almost imagine the damned things reclining on some cushioned couch as you kneel abjectly at the foot peeling more grapes to feed their insatiable appetites – or in the modern sense, buying and downloading more air time, which as many of us can testify, can be a somewhat pricey business.

I said earlier it all leaves me for one feeling dense – and yet, I wonder if that is truly the case. In this manic era of texting, many social observers have noted there has been a substantial decline in written standards and verbal communication; some time ago I remember watching with fascination as two teens, clearly friends, sat side by side on a bus texting away furiously to each other – and not one word passed their lips. One would like to think that the Art of Conversation is alive and well, but seeing scenes like that is somewhat worrying.

As if happens, I do have a cellphone which I keep for emergencies or for back up should I be out and about. It is plain, simple and unadorned. All it does is handle phone calls and that is why I have it. I don’t like texting people every five minutes to see what they are doing nor do I expect they will be there to answer my electronic summons at the push of a ‘send’ button 24/7. I like to think they have a real, tangible life and what’s more, I prefer to physically meet with my friends and talk face to face rather than hop online with Facebook and Twitter. It is so easy to type out something stupid online for everyone to see that you may well regret later. With a physical friend, at least you can make amends openly and your facial gestures will display your sincerity – the typed out word lingers in Cyberspace forever, stark, rude and unforgiving.

Technology should be our tool – not the other way around.

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