This guy lives in my backyard. I always like to start with a photo, and Romeo (as my granddaughters call him) has little to do with the topic, but he’s been yakking at me a lot lately, so I snapped his picture through the window. He’s huge. He has a bevvy of ladies out there–hence his name–and we think he was actually hatched in our little woods, which have been always home to all kinds of wildlife, but the turkeys have only been around for a couple of years. We’ve left our backyard alone pretty much because we’re flanked by bits of undeveloped parkland on both sides, so we just go with it. Anyway, I give you Romeo.
An editorial in Wednesday’s Mpls Star Tribune spoke to one of my recurring sources of guilt. I’m not particularly a guilt wallower except when I start getting this niggling feeling that the world is passing me by in a way that I really ought to care about. You know, for the sake of my career. Generally, it has to do with technology.
The editorial’s headline: “OMG: It’s time to write a headline.” It’s about the effects of technology on our brains and our lives, and the writer cleverly flips back and forth between his message and incoming messages. “The implications are worrisome because…hold that thought…We’re getting an e-mail about…” And I cringe just reading this because I know this happens to me. I’m in the room with a real human being, and only half my brain is engaged. The other half is parceled out among my gadgets–TV, computer, cell phone. I’m pretty sure my brain doesn’t function well that way. And I’m only straddling a couple of bandwagons. I don’t text. I don’t tweet, twitter, whatever. I’m not on Facebook. (I’ve heard that My Space is already “so yesterday,” so that’s one I’ll stop feeling guilty about.) But I keep hearing that today’s conscientious businesswoman must get with the programs or else.
The editorial refers to Marshall McLuhan’s claim (46 years ag0!) that technology was beginning to overtake content, and he was talking mainly about TV. His book is often mis-referenced as The Medium Is the Message. The Strib neglected to point out that the actual title of the book is The Medium Is the Massage. It was assigned reading when I was in high school, and I remember the discussion of the title and the message/massage pun. Worth thinking about, especially now that we’re inundated with new gadgets. It’s impossible to keep up, and I’m beginning to wonder why we try. Are we addicted to the massage?
According to the NYT (referenced by the Strib) “we have tripled our information intake over the last 50 years, but no one thinks we’re three times smarter.”
I think part of the problem is that people have become lazy about evaluating information and seriously considering the message, but that’s probably a topic for another day. I’m concerned about our willingness to consider the value of the medium. Are people who send and receive amazing volumes of text messages daily missing something besides spelling and punctuation?
Seriously, am I missing something? Am I becoming the fuddy-duddy I rolled my baby blues about back in the day? Or are we–and this is my fear–losing something in terms of personal human touch, not to mention the human intelligence department?