A few years ago, I was riding the train and was feeling rather melancholy. I wrote part of this during the ride, finished it later, printed it and then lost it. I found it while cleaning the other day.
The Wonders of Modern Technology
As I sit by the window, and watch as the scenery flashes past, I wonder on the amazing technology we live with on a daily basis. I am riding the train today, to go more than 50 km, and I plan to arrive in less than 25 minutes. In my grandmother’s day, this trip may have taken more than an hour. My great- great-grandparents, perhaps the better part of an afternoon by horse, the better part of a day by foot. Yet I take it for granted that not only will I be warm and comfortable, I will arrive within my timeline.
I look out at the world passing by my window, and realize the area we are passing through is an area that I would not voluntarily walk within. I am safe, and I see the cameras watching, keeping me safe. I can see for miles, from the height of the train station platform. I try to imagine the grey mist in the distance is a shoreline of a distant lake, and for a moment I can almost see the boats as they float past. I then realize they are birds, soaring on the cold breeze, and I shiver.
I am warm within the train, yet I feel the cold whisper upon my neck as the doors wiz open Star-Trek fashion. People enter, and I watch as they perform their daily dance. There, a man stands, with his hands in his pockets, waiting for the train to come to a stop. He wears horn rimmed glasses, or does he wear them just for show? His ear buds are as much a fashion statement as they are a source of entertainment; he moves to the music only he can hear.
The lady next to him carries a bag, probably within lies her computer, her external brain. Most likely it holds all the information she needs for her job, all her appointments, and it probably now controls her life. It tells her what to do, and when to do it.
The young man beside her pulls out a phone, and begins to run his thumbs over the face. I realize he is texting someone, probably to tell them where he is. We have now become a society that needs instantaneous knowledge. The person that young man is texting is probably wondering where he is. No longer is it acceptable to know when someone has left, or approximate time of arrival. Now, we must know moment by moment where our friends are.
Facebook and Twitter are our friends now; we seek them out to keep up to date with our physical friends and family. We go to Twitter to know their thoughts of the moment, we text them for their movements, and we watch Facebook to know what they are planning to do or have just done. What would our ancestors have thought of our society, so interconnected, and yet so removed from one another.
I look out the window once more, and I notice the train tracks, enveloped, crowded and yet protected and caressed by the concrete that surrounds them. Power lines overhead provide the energy to take me where I want to go. Suddenly, a disembodied voice startles me out of my revelations, to announce the stop. It is my destination, and I stand to disembark. My phone rings just then. It is my husband, wondering where I was, and if I would be arriving at the restaurant soon. I assure him I am just moments away.
Modern technology, it is amazing, astounding and it is a part and parcel of our daily lives. We have become addicted and dependent upon it. Without it, would we lose track of ourselves, or gain further understanding of our world? I don’t know. This is a question for philosophers, for another day. I am almost late, and brace myself for the wind without. The stop the train comes to is yet another block walk to endure before I can re-enter warmth. I look forward to the evening, to spending time with people I now, instead of the strangers I have shared a moment with.