Is the computer your best friend or your foe? PDF E-mail

Many of us classify our computer (or smartphone) as our best friend, while many others of us consider that computer to be our worst enemy. Personally some days my computer can be a friend while other times it’s a foe that pushes my frustration to the limits. But, no matter what our feeling about our computer, we all must admit the computer world is here to stay and like the marriage vow line it’s “for better or worse.”

I just finished reading a book published in 1904 about the history of Republic County, Kansas -- my birthplace. My grandfather presented the book to me when I was born. I must apologize to him since it’s taken me over 70 years to open the cover and begin reading. No, I’m not a slow learner -- had other subjects of more interest, both at an early and older age.

When I concluded the reading of the book it was evident a lot of things in life have changed since the 1904 publication and the majority of those changes have taken place in the past 50 years... thanks to the computer and its relatives  that make up computerized technology.

The computer has replaced the over 100 fraternal and social organizations that once existed in the county and thrived on socialization of the people, despite the fact those people worked sun-up to sun-down, seven days a week eking out a living on small farms and businesses. Gone are the homes with wraparound porches and verandas that were once filled by chatting families.

Now our major socialization seems to be done via the computer’s e-mail, texting and software programs such as Facebook, Skype and Twitter. Even computer technology has a cold voice of its own, barking out messages, or sales pitches to us.

Fewer people remember when business deals were concluded with a handshake. Today it’s via e-mail

Shopping experiences -- once done by going to stores asking for a special cut of meat, seeking more info about a product from the owner or a clerk who were personal friends and then hearing the words “thank you” as you exited -- are nearly lost by our present hurry-up attitude. Now, with the click of your computer, you can shop from your home for virtually any product at any store.

Still I cannot condemn our new computer world, where speed seems to have taken over everything we do. Society today seems too busy to take time to enjoy. One can argue the computer allows us more time to do other chores. An argument also can be made that this computer world may have created a situation where we are sacrificing personal human relationships and the benefits thereof.

I concluded that the Kansas history book exemplified no one was busier than those homesteaders and the hours they worked. Still, those people realized the importance of personal relationships and found time to groom them.
Now the real question remains. Was the past really better than the present... and what about the future?

RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

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