Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Virgin and the Dynamo

When Henry Adams went to the Paris Exhibition in 1900 he was so floored by the emerging force of the dynamo that he knew he was standing on a precipice that would define America in the new century, and that might eventually be it's downfall. He likened the power of this new modern technology to the same power that the Virgin wielded throughout the preceding centuries, a force that had inspired the crusades, colonization, and the greatest art and architecture of the age.

America has, in many senses, become the stage for the technological revolution. Just as science has replaced religion for many people in decades past, technology has come to do the same. Bow to the computer chip! Wireless Worship! Answer only to your cell phone!

How many people do you know between ages 18-65 that don't have a cell phone? My Dad doesn't, and he's proud of it. He hasn't the remotest interest in even learning how to use one, which is fine, because there aren't many instances in which he would need one. And granted, yesterday it would have been nice as he was standing in the airport for 2 hours waiting for a plane that wouldn't arrive for another five, and all the while a lonely ringing cell phone gathered dust in his car (my mother loaned it to him). Part of me wants to chuckle and say, Let's not be foolish! Get with the times! Step into the digital world! But another part of me says, How dependent am I on the conveniences of modern technology? Is this healthy? Am I losing touch with a greater power and a greater ability the more I lean on silicon and plastic to get me through the day? Maybe I need to be careful, or I'll let a universe of iPods, hand helds, and lap tops snatch me up in some thousand gigabyte death grip.

But seriously though Dad, get a cell phone.

1 comment:

MetzQueen said...

While it is true that technologies are creating the needs they are fulfilling, I'm not sure its necessarily true that by "being dependent" on technology you would be losing touch with a greater power and a greater ability. I suppose you'd first have to define what you think these greater things to be. Ultimately, it's a subjective idea. We can reason that we can live without technology (which of course isn't necessarily true either, we can simply fool ourselves into thinking so). Then we will see ourselves existentially - we are completely free and thus responsible for what we do with our lives; i.e. whether that be living with technology or not.