Overwhelmed by technology trends
Get a Life
Well, two Y2Ks are over and done without apocalyptic mayhem. But is the entire new millennium destined to pass by as smoothly? I was really expecting a change of the social order a couple weeks ago, you know? I was ready. I wanted to find some ranch land, bring to it some horses and cattle, be a rancher; no big thing, just start livin' an American dream. An impossible dream, I know. Now.
I don't know if you remember, but everything was supposed to shut down because the computers would all malfunction. First, the trucking industry and the power plants would be hit. Gas would not be delivered. Electricity and telephone services would be shut down. The ramifications were huge. No more fresh produce from Florida or California in my grocery store. No more grocery store, either, really.
We were all supposed to go back to living straight off the land like our forefathers or our forefather's fathers. It would have been neat. I guess you'd have to like horses and fireplaces and homemade things though.
A marine once said, way back in 1999, that there would be rioting in the streets what with no more organized law enforcement. Chaos, if you will. He was somewhat excited since he, of course, would be in power, for as he said, martial law must go into effect, executed with help from him and the other marines.
I'd like to ponder martial law. That would be interesting. Martial law. In 1999, I was thinking such law wasn't very democratic, but heck, I had some connections so I wasn't too worried. I was hoping that there would be a short time of martial law, and then we could all go about our business: gathering crops, tending the flocks, herding the herds. Right. Well, I never said I was the smartest underclassman.
I suppose my theories had some flaws. Like, for instance, some scientists and technologists could have actually fixed the computer problems before a whole breakdown of modern living would develop. And who even wants to live in a time before cellular phones existed, never mind a time before air-conditioning or flushing toilets? Maybe only Shawn Colvin who wants to know where all the cowboys have gone, over and over again on the radio.
Let's stop a minute, though, and ponder the modern era. Did Y2K problems really pass by, leaving only a few stones touched? I wonder. One may never know.
It is important to note, however, that that illustrious visionary from the 16th century, Nostradamus, predicted a Y2K catastrophe in the form of global warming for this new millennium. Well, okay, he may have actually said that a "great king of terror" would come from the sky in 1999. But many have interpreted this to be a long-term sky-king of terror, i.e. global warming. And we all know that the Earth's temperature is gradually increasing; glaciers are gradually melting; patches of permafrost are melting in Alaska that have never melted before. Is this something of a post-modern pre-apocalypse, if you will? One can't be certain. Some plants like carbon dioxide, but then, so do weeds and other monstrous pests. Perhaps it's only the radical environmental loonies blowing things out of proportion again, worrying like they do about their favorite planet.
And what about the rapid growth of technology and a growing insatiable need for a faster everything? Perhaps the real Y2K problem is bigger than a mere second, a mere eye blink. Perhaps the Y2K disaster is computers eventually running amuck. Or people turning into computers who eventually run amuck. Crazy, you say?
Well, now, stop a moment. Who has not seen people with cell phones plastered to their heads while driving cars, watching movies, eating in restaurants, walking to class, even getting groceries? My God, who do you need to talk to when you are getting groceries? Make a list.
First, you get a phone plastered to your head. Then, you start becoming more and more "connected." You begin working with computers at home. Finally you never leave home.
And we all know the dangers of a computer-dominated community from watching "The Net" with Sandra Bullock. They will say, "Give us the disk and we'll give you your life back," but they don't really mean it and you don't really have a life anymore anyway. Maybe I'm not sounding so crazy after all, huh?
And who owns a beeper or wanted to during the beeper-fad a few years ago? Who secretly desires to be beeped? That's another question: How many people want to be beeped? Because it's important, right, to always be in conversation with other people? But in Finland people talk more over phone lines than over coffee, and the same is true in Tokyo where they have DoCoMo, a thumb powered online cell phone that makes offline, or what is more commonly known as the eyeball-to-eyeball conversation, seem rather out-dated.
There's also St. Malachy, another visionary from all the way back in the 12th century who predicted some sort of apocalypse in 2020. You see, he already predicted Pope John Paul II, naming him, "from the sun's labor," and guess who was born on a total eclipse? I don't know about you, but that was enough for me.
I was pondering what might happen in 2020 and 2020 looks an awful lot like 20/20 as in vision so maybe that's the date when many will lose their vision, having stared one too many times into a palm-pilot. Certainly, it's a shot in the dark, but one simply cannot dismiss the quiet and strange problems of a new millennium. Maybe going back to a time before industry, to a time when land was the key to power, is not the answer to modern problems (although having a horse as a personal transportation vehicle would still be neat), but using everything that is new just because it is new, is not the way to avoid technological problems either.
Anna Barbour is a junior theology and pre-med major. Her column runs every other Wednesday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, January 29, 2001