Last week, the CBC ran a documentary called Digital Dummies. I'll link it below, but I have a feeling that the CBC in their righteous need to keep everything Canadian in Canada, won't allow people outside this country to see it. Shame. It's very interesting.
Basically, the idea is that technology, especially BlackBerries and I-Phones are dumbing down society because they're preventing us from focussing on anything for more than a few seconds. I try to embrace technology when it's useful. I like to write and read blogs, I use email... so I'm hope I'm not a hypocrite when I say that I think the documentarian has a point.
Yesterday, I took my son uptown to get some classroom posters laminated. I had phoned earlier in the day. The man at FedEx sounded like he was multitasking. He told me they could laminate on the spot. When I got there, he told me that the laminating machine had to warm up and to come back in half an hour. I happily agreed. When we came back, he told me that his test run left bubbles on the paper. I told him I didn't mind a few bubbles. Then he told me that they'd run out of the laminating plastic and that they'd have to send them out. Long story short - I have to return mid-week to pick them up.
Fast forward to our trip home. We were walking through a very crowded Eglinton subway station. Duncan was running ahead of me. I notice a woman texting behind him. She's oblivious to everything. He stops on a dime. She smashed into him. Three other people were fiddling around with their gadgets and bumped into us before we made it to the subway platform.
At a birthday party for one of my son's friends last spring, a mother sat in the living room with other parents and spent the entire time checking her messages or updating her FaceBook status or whatever. It was incredibly rude. I gave up the notion of trying to start a conversation...
This morning, I was reading the NY Times Book Review. (It's been coming free with the Sunday Star). I began reading a review of Ivana Lowell's incredible life. I'd never even heard of her before, but I couldn't stop reading. She was born into English aristo-dom and her beautiful mother (see the above picture) was a complete disaster as a mother. Poor Ivana received burns to over 70% of her body when a hot kettle of water fell on her as a girl.
The review got me thinking about the time I worked at a book store. People would come in for their papers and I'd see them in the coffee shop across the street, nursing a cup of tea and generally lost in news and feature stories. I know people still read and buy books. I just think that everything in society has sped up so much that we're losing the plot, so to speak. I hear upper-grade teachers at my school talking about the fact that it seems natural for students to Wiki information and copy and paste references without considering the source.
I want to slow down. Whatever we're obsessively texting as we come out of train tunnels - is it that important? Am I just being an old crank? I don't know. I just feel like a little balance is needed before everything we read is reduced to the amount of characters allowed in a Tweet.
What do you think?
Here's the preview clip.