How is technology affecting us in Galveston and in Texas? That is the question that our gracious editor presented us with to ruminate on.
Zeros and ones. That’s what we are to the machine. We are digits of information feeding it, so it can grow stronger and bigger than we have ever dreamed of. It really doesn’t matter where we are anymore, Galveston, New York, Paris, Manaus, Mozambique, it is all becoming the same. The deeper we get into this technological realm, the more insignificant and homogeneous our location becomes. Our language, our culture, our economics, our philosophy is merging with the machine.
Let me tell you a story about John Henry. John Henry was a steel driving man. He worked for the railroad, and with his heavy hammer he could lay more track and drive more nails than any man alive. The railroaders were always on the cutting edge, and so they came up with a machine that had a steam engine they thought could outdrive any human. It would save a lot of money because one of these machines could lay more track than ten men. Except, if one of these men was the brave John Henry.
John Henry said he could beat that machine, so one day there was a contest and the two opposing forces went at it, John Henry sweating and swinging his hammer and that machine spitting steam and blowing puffs of smoke. They fought from morning ‘til night, plowing through the rock and mountains, chipping away at that track. People cheered, and John said nothing, just cursed the evil machine under his breath, he kept swinging with all his mighty strength.
The sun went down, the whistle blew, and John Henry was exhausted after laying 3 miles of track. The machine only laid 2 ½ miles. The railroaders ate their words, and the crowd of working men and women picked up their hero who had done the impossible. He beat the machine, but it was too late. Right there on the track John Henry died, with the heavy hammer in his hand.
We used to get into a lot of trouble as kids. We were experimenting with sexual activity, not to mention some drugs and alcohol. We were sneaking around late in the night to find ways to party and have fun. They say kids are not doing as many drugs anymore, or even having much sex. What have they traded these traditional vises for? Now, they have their devices, rather than vices. We used to hear about crack babies, but now we hear about I-Pad babies. While not as physically disabling as crack, technology for young children can negatively impact their social and emotional health and development.
Try as you may to out work or defeat the machine, the fact is technological advancements are just that. Technology is a tool for growth. It is here for our use. The problem is when we become the tools and technology starts using us.
We want faster and faster. We want the future now and technology is trying to give it to us, but where did the precious right now go? Speed is only relevant when one side has it. It’s nullified when we’re all flying.
"Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. Buddhism perceives the beauty of change, for life is like music in this: if any note or phrase is held for longer than its appointed time, the melody is lost." -Allen Watts