Progress should lean forward, not backward

David Soler

You think technology is an improvement for mankind, right? But “think twice, that’s my only advice,” as Gnarls Barkley sings should give you a hint that that’s not the case. At first sight, there is nothing wrong in loving a couple of gadgets — come on, Wi-Fi hot spot detectors are particularly useful for bandwidth Han Solos.

But do you think it is normal to spend, for example, 18 hours a day in front of a computer screen at home? Yes, you read it right! No kidding. That’s what my roommate is all about these days. I’ve never seen him eat once yet. Of course he might work during those hours, too, but the line between YouTube time, MP3 downloads and company productivity is perilously blurred, don’t you think?

Wait, there’s more.

Have you been craving to get hold of one of those high-tech slave-makers lately? Sure, you know what I’m talking about. Blackberries, Smartphones and the king of the hill … the iPhone! In a couple of years, they will attach one of those MPAA-like warnings on them: “This device has the ability to make your long-term life miserable.”

But isn’t it cool to be able to check e-mails, a la Shakira “whenever, wherever?” At first thought, hell yes. But a forethought later, hell no! Be ready for the payback if you do. Paying for the omni-communication ability — close to paying yourself to become a slave during the Gladiator ages — really means you will acquire the lifeaholic’s ultimate tool. Once you get them, not just your bosses, parents, grandparents or pets — wait for 2050 about that — will expect immediate replies, but prepare to become a sort of walking rockola — with tunes for e-mails, rings for bosses and Web site alerts.

And these days, there is a campus winner that strikes without warning among all the gadgets. It’s thin, it’s ahead, it’s the FlashCard or any plastic card! Did you notice how unreliable that piece of plastic is compared with the eon-old iron keys? I find it completely unfair that we have dispatched for good such an efficient tool in human civilization as simple as a key. Be frank, how many times has the “high-tech” plastic card left you locked outside your dorm room after taking a morning shower? How many times has the FlashCard refused to pay for that muffin in the Kent Market when you were cashless because “oh well, the machine won’t read it.”

I can’t remember the last time a real key stood me up. The FlashCard? Last Monday. Sadly, it’s neither the first time nor the last one. It always uses the same unavoidable trick: It stops working without warning. Suddenly I found myself unable to enter any of the rooms I needed for work. What’s funny is that any attempt to make the access work is completely futile. What can you do besides swiping the useless plastic over and over again? But on top of that, the system to make the FlashCard operational again is even funnier. Once you got a decent ratio of irritation in your bloodstream, you have to overcome the mysterious “Lockshop,” the place where the keymasters lurk, in the outskirts of the campus. Finding them in office to restore the FlashCard access — or even calling them — is as close as playing the roulette in Vegas as it can be, and the attempt can take from days to weeks. Well, just some minor burdens for the sake of cutting-edge technology, right?

Certainly, high-tech gadgets have a long life among us and though there is no turn around, is there maybe a turn ahead?

David Soler is a biomedical sciences graduate and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].