For all the wonder of The Age of Technology, there is a creeping sense that all of this might not be such a good thing in the long run. We can instantly download every song ever recorded. We can send photographs of a killer piece of pie to our 500 closest friends. We can stream a dizzying cornucopia of videos anytime anywhere.
Yet at the same time we know that the robots are coming to take our jobs. They already make our cars. Soon enough they will drive us and our goods. Eventually they will do our housework and shopping, even care for our children. Then someday they will kill us either through the programming of our human enemies or (gulp!) on their own.
We are told that technology is irresistible and that as individuals we are powerless to resist its inevitability. I’m not so sure. There are some encouraging signs.
Vinyl records are making a comeback. Sales are booming. Since 2006, sales have grown more than 20 percent each year. Young and old seem to like taking black vinyl disks out of decorated sleeves, and then watching and listening to them as they spin around on a turntable. Most every Monday, my 1-year-old grandson and I dance to the Four Tops’ Greatest Hits played on a turntable at his house. He is fascinated not only by the sound, but the sight of “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” spinning around and around. Me too.
Paper is on a roll. Like the buffalo once headed toward extinction, books and magazine sales are up, read by not only Boomers, but Millennials. E-book sales have begun to slow. Maybe we should hesitate getting rid of something that has been around for millennia.
So while technology is inevitable, how we integrate it into our lives is not. History is also inevitable. We would do well to remember and honor things and activities that have stood the test of time. We need to be careful. We are social animals. Family, friends and nature have always been the foundation of the species. So slipping our electronic tethers and having people over, talking a walk, playing a board game, reading a book, sitting and thinking in the park or by the fire should be a part of our future.
As our children and grandchildren go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of the omnipresent screens of their electronic devices, their brains might slowly morph — and their humanity slowly diminish. We should at least be thinking about that future.
Maybe the way forward includes a look back.