Saturday, September 25, 2010

Due To Technical Difficulties

We are never more vulnerable these days than when the technology that we use to prop up our everyday existence fails us. Even when the lack of such technology is merely an inconvenience and not of a life sustaining nature, we find ourselves up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle (pardon my technical jargon). Modern man has seemingly in fact become a victim of his own technological success.

Or so it seemed to me over this last week at least, when the desktop computer that I have been relying on for many years both for these often meandering blog posts and for frequently substandard efforts for the Toledo Free Press suffered a rather sudden, catastrophic, and ignominious passing. There is little doubt that the poor beast was tired, aging even more badly than its erstwhile companion. It should likewise be noted that like most technology, it undoubtedly suffered from possession of a much shorter relative life-span than its biologic pal. Much like a favored pet however, it had been a good and faithful companion, always ready to answer the call for both work and play as it suited the needs and whims of its careless master.

There are some no doubt, who will claim that in fact this ever-present ally suffered an untimely end, victim to the second-hand cigar smoke of one who should probably go nameless (owing no doubt, to a tragic and almost shameful level of cowardice on his part). Personally however, I believe that this explanation is anything but the final word on the subject. In fact, I believe that the recently departed enjoyed a good cigar, even if it was capable of experiencing such rapturous experiences only vicariously. 

Since both wine and whiskey were likewise substances potentially lethal and therefore forbidden to it (and hence only available to its more than willing accomplice), I think that the smell of a good cigar was in fact one of its few careful diversions, and well within its sphere of appreciation in spite of the dire warnings issued on potential hazards.

Even now in its passing, we know that there is no true rest for this all too willing participant in the practice of electronic excess: and that rather than proper ceremony (an Irish wake comes to mind) and a decent burial, it will instead be kept on a shelf like a poor relation ... a ghoulish memory and a potential future donor of components for its newer and more stylish replacement. 

And as I write this poor attempt at a eulogy for the poor creature that in the end gave its all in service, I cannot help but wonder which of us was truly the master. How much of what has been produced was a product (and the fault) of the method and how much that of the mover? I wonder as well how much of the technology that we tell ourselves we are served by in fact has in fact taken that very power from us. 

Forget where most of us would be without the computer, the cell phone (especially those of you with smart phones),or the microwave oven; how many of us would now find life all but unimaginable and unbearable without without email, Twitter, or heaven forbid ... without Facebook? How many of us would be able to perform the oh so vital activities that have become far more than mere routines without the crutch of technologies that we really don't understand and could not substitute for. Sure we could all cook over a fire, but not without an electronic igniter to provide the flame for the propane tank fueling the process on a gas grill. Certainly we could all get from place to place without automobiles, but wouldn't we look damned silly with a GPS unit on a bicycle, let alone a belt (and wouldn't some of us be shocked to discover that all bicycles are not stationary and some walking is not done on treadmills). 

Of course we could all communicate, but imagine what written letters would look like today after the mess we have made of the written word with texting. It is in fact, a curious world that we have created for ourselves, and one that I'm not sure that many of us yet know our place in. How much of what we consider the essential part of ourselves is tied to constant electronic connection and instant gratification? How many of us recognize as we use it, that the very technology we are now so dependent upon changes so fast that by the time most of it becomes commonplace, it's already outdated? 

So it is with one good and faithful electronic soul who will not be with us here today, or ever again in the days to come. For though perhaps this colleague might have been brought back to life (with significant technical effort and at considerable cost), in the end it seemed kinder to simply allow the gentle passing of an existence of one whose day had passed (something that I sometimes feel I understand all too well). Alas, where this long-time cohort is concerned, no future appearances will be possible ... Due to technical difficulties.

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