Computers controlling people. While it might sound like a plot from a really bad science fiction movie starring some washed-up actor, our society grows more and more dependent on our little mechanical friends every day. Sure, I understand that computers are needed for saving lives and controlling our nuclear weapons silos, but we could live without recreational computer-use for a week.
Let’s start with the GPS systems that are becoming more and more common in today’s automobiles.
What would we do if we didn’t have that soothing voice mapping out every square inch of our travel from beginning to end? Judging by the degree to which some people rely on these things, I wouldn’t be surprised to see flaming piles of mangled metal everywhere, accompanied by crazy naked people running around the wreckage exclaiming they “don’t know where to go.”
And what about computer games?
I happen to know a handful of people who would die if you took “World of Warcraft” away from them. And by die, I mean collapse due to exhaustion when forced to assume an activity involving any sort of physical exertion. After being cooped up in their rooms for the better part of the last year, drinking dreadfully unhealthy amounts of Mountain Dew, they would find such tasks such as crossing the street or playing catch with Dad as a form of Gulag-style torture. The process of assimilation back into mainstream society would be a long and arduous task.
E-mail also falls under the umbrella of recreational computer-use. As much as people would like to regard it as a necessity, humans didn’t have it for the better part of existence and still managed to get along just fine.
They managed to build the pyramids, create a polio vaccine and achieve the miracle of flight. Not too shabby for a bunch of guys lacking instantaneous communication. With e-mail out of the picture, we would be forced to use that one thing in our front yard where that strange white car stops every day except for Sundays and holidays. Oh yeah, it’s the mailbox.
Snail mail could be fun again, but in the electronic age, the mailbox has turned into an edifice of fear. It constantly houses nothing but credit card bills and junk mail from some company that you bought a Hello Kitty place mat from five years ago.
In the event of a seven-day layoff from Hotmail, one might be able to venture out to the mailbox without knee-buckling fear or overwhelming depression, knowing that a nice letter from Grandma might be out there waiting for you.
Lastly, we come to Facebook. College students live and die by this social network. I mean, we came pretty close to a full-scale riot over the stupid (and in retrospect, relatively minor) News Feed. So what would happen if Facebook decided to shut down for a week?
Simple, the combined force of the anger, grief, confusion and shock of the nation’s collegians would create a cosmic disturbance that would take Earth out of orbit and send us hurtling headlong toward the sun. OK, maybe that was a bit overboard, but I would be lying if I said I expected anything less.
OK, so maybe taking away our technological conveniences would cause exponentially more harm than good to the world populace. Bad idea, David. But remember, there’s a lot more to this world than keyboards and internal processing chips, and it would be wise to experience it all.
David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday.