“Something I Can’t Imagine Living Without!


“Something I Can’t Imagine Living Without!

Yikes – Mark quotes a survey in a recent PT article here, that 29% of those owning smart phones ‘can’t imagine living without it.” I understand his point, he is telling our industry to get with the program and get your m commerce pants on and be sure you can be found with an app on line. Fair Enough.

I’m concerned and a bit saddened by how that phrase means that technology has taken over our lives.

One of my colleagues in our building bought a shell of a 1974 International Harvester Scout. He then spent more than he would have on a new Ford fixing it up and making is like new. He added a few creature comforts like satellite radio and air conditioning, but basically its the car that he could have bought new 40 years ago. Why?

He told me that he wanted a vehicle he could fix himself. He waved his hand around at all the cars in the parking lot and noted that they were all basically computers with wheels and if a circuit board blew, there was nothing he could do. If a coil or belt or brake went out on his Scout, he could fix it.

My father and I took apart an old 1948 Ford. We ground the valves, replaced the master cylinder, adjusted the timing, cleaned the carburetor, changed the fan belts. In doing that, I learned how cars worked. At least I thought I did. Today if you lift the hood, you may find a gray plastic box covering the ‘works.’  And frankly with all the hoses and ‘stuff’ in there, I have no clue how it works anyway.

I think this is neither good nor bad, it just ‘is.’ As we enter more technical times, items as simple as a toaster or as complicated as a car become beyond our ability to understand. When we need them fixed, we call someone who knows how and that’s that. But I do still miss getting my hands dirty changing the oil or greasing that old Ford.

The people who rely on smart phones to the point of ‘not being able to live without it’ are placing themselves at the mercy of… everyone else.  They have forgotten, or never learned, how to look up something in an encyclopedia, how to do simple math, and now, I find, read cursive writing. Do they know that they can ‘pick up a phone and call?’ Maybe not, landlines are going away.

I confess I have  Kindle. I read a lot and we were reaching the point that books were taking over the house. Now I keep them in a cloud. But I have enough on hand so I can fall back to paper should the power go out.

Lets face it, I like all the ease and comforts technology brings. But, much to my wife’s dismay, I do from time to time like to take something apart to ‘fix’ it.  It is usually cheaper (five trips to Home Depot) and easier to call the repair man.  But once in a while I just want to be able to say that “I can.”

Those “I can’t live without it” folks would probably order a new one, have it delivered by drone, and have a better, cheaper one and the one I fixed, but there are two words they can’t say. “I can”



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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