A wise individual once said that technology “brings you great gifts with one hand and stabs you in the back with the other.” It is ironic that technology, however beneficial, can still cause such debilitating problems.
For example, our eldest daughter recently struggled with the duality of technology on one of her recent excursions.
Rachel has decided to travel to Italy, alone. She is rather a fearless adventurer and explorer and, as such, she uses the technological tools available to her innovative generation of hers.
Our daughter is a tech-savvy person, showing her phone for verification to get access to pretty much everything she wants or needs, from boarding a plane to an Italian wine tour. She really is a different world.
Conversely, my wife and I still need to have physical documents and tickets while attending concerts, shows or flights. My old robotic brain just programmed that way. I still own VHS tapes.
However, I envy that she walked the cobblestone streets of Tuscany, witnessed the ruins of Pompeii and stood in the shadow of the Colosseum, absorbing the culture and meeting interesting people in a different realm. Across the ocean, she texted her adventures as her eyes rested on iconic structures that I have only seen in pictures.
And then, just before he got home, he dropped the phone.
“Danger Will Robinson!”
The drop damaged the charging port. She texted her sister to let everyone know that she would be out of range for a while when her battery ran out and hopefully she could buy a wireless charger. This was the last time we heard from her for a while. Alarming.
However, his problem escalated. Apparently, since he was in Italy when he tried to buy something, he had to verify the purchase. Her bank texted her on the phone. However, her phone was dead. As such, she could not purchase the charger. She was literally locked out of her funds because her phone wasn’t working. And she couldn’t get her phone to work because she was locked out of her funds.
I would have panicked and hanged myself with some Italian spaghetti. Seriously, imagine not being able to access your money while in a foreign country and at the same time not being able to contact anyone for help because your phone is broken. Besides, she was alone.
Whenever things like this happen to me, I have my wife. I remember once, while I was at Applebee’s, I went to pay the bill and realized I had forgotten my wallet. I panicked and went to the bathroom. I called my wife from the booth and told her about my plan to run to the car: first she would leave and then I would follow her. She calmly replied: “We can use my card.” She has always been a quick thinker.
However, Rachel wasn’t put off. She didn’t see pasta as a way out. Instead, she approached a stranger (in a foreign land) and borrowed their wireless charger. Not long after, we got messages from her. We were very relieved.
On reflection, whenever my class reads Ray Bradbury’s work, I find that there is some confusion as to what his message is. Many students automatically think Bradbury is arguing thematically against the existence of technology. However, his argument is not against technology, rather against the dangers of technology, and those dangers stem from the ingenuity of man, not from the tool itself.
In Rachel’s case, despite using technology, in a potential crisis she relied on her wits and … human kindness to solve an unexpected dilemma. Bradbury would have been proud.
I know I am.
Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at [email protected]