A lady told me long ago of the one virtue cellphones had in her eyes: “You see fewer men walking along the road with one hand picking the nose and the other scratching the crotch.”
Then came Bluetooth, and whither it has gone who knows? For these are days when technological innovations no longer last even the 18 months referred to by Moore’s Law. Yes, the technology is getting better and ‘better’, and will soon leave us behind. For the innovators all seem to forget that, however clever the application, it’s the same old idiots who’re using it.
The fault of course is not in the technology. It’s too easy to blame inanimate things: big dams, nuclear power plants, cellphone towers. Razing them all to the ground would change nothing. As a race, we managed pretty well for centuries to destroy ourselves and everything else on this fragile, blue-green planet with metal spears and axes, and for millennia before that with stone and bone. Just as we’ve educated ourselves up (or down) to a certain level of foolishness with regard to money and ideologies, we are doing the same with technology. What we need is more silence; but we fill that up with mobile phones, Facebook and Twitter.
From a utilitarian point of view, there’s something to be said for mobile phones. They help people get information, which is sometimes vital—say, to farmers and students and people threatened by cyclones. In the cities, though, they have become merely another toy to kill contemplation. Besides, they—like e-mail—make it easier to lie and to make excuses.