I Knew I Hated Technology For A Reason

I Knew I Hated Technology For A Reason


Leonard Zwelling


This article by Alyssa Lukpat in The New York Times on July 19 tells a mighty sad story. Apparently people are getting lost and even dying while hiking on mountains in Europe and the United States because they arm themselves for the hike with just a smartphone. They use Google maps and other apps as guides to ascend what turn out to be dangerous hills because the trail indicated on the phone is the most direct, but not the safest and the screen on the phone is so small as to give insufficient detail for safe ascent and descent.

Hey, I’m as guilty as the next guy in using Rabbi Google to look up who had the highest batting average among active major league players in 2020 (Miguel Cabrera, .314) or who won the Best Picture Oscar in 1985 (Amadeus). I may even use Waze to guide me on a highway, but pinning my survival on smartphone maps, a GPS app or worst of all the need to call for help when a signal might be hard to find in the wilderness is a really bad idea. It is also indicative of our addiction to technology.

Waze is as good an example as I can name. It’s really good when everything is working smoothly and traffic is flowing, but if there’s an unanticipated accident or a freight train crossing Bellaire Boulevard for 15 minutes when you need to get to the Texas Medical Center in a rush, it won’t beat local knowledge of the alternative routes to be found.

The other problem is that much of the information on the Internet is crowd sourced and thus prone to crowd error. Wikipedia is no substitute for a detailed search and the use of real reference books to ascertain what really happened at the Alamo.

My children are fond of making fun of me and my aversion to technology. But that’s not exactly right. I use Netflix and Power Point and all kinds of web sites to keep up with news. I love Amazon. I cannot imagine life without prime status. My wife buys all our airplane tickets on line and I buy tickets to Broadway shows that way. Heck, I even have tickets to the The Lehman Trilogy in New York on September 29 and don’t even have paper tickets. All I have is the Ticketmaster app on my phone and I’ve bought tickets to P!nk and the Rockets the same way. I’m all for the convenience and the absence of needing to talk to anyone to get something done, BUT there are times when things aren’t going right that you would really like to talk to another human being. Good luck with that. Even if you get someone they are as likely to be in Mumbai and have English as a third language as they are of being helpful. I understand that off shore call centers save money, but do they service customer needs? Not much.

I’m 73 now. I am officially old. I don’t mind that. I just miss things from my youth like phone books, maps, and the ability of people to make change without the use of a computer. I can use technology about as well as most people my age. I just don’t like it and now I know why. Using it going up a mountain is a really bad idea. Try a map. Better yet, try a guide. Better yet, Google the view and stay at home.

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