2010-12-15 / Editorial

Don Lively

It was creepy. Not scary exactly, just sort of unsettling.

After all, I’m just a simple Southern boy who still doesn’t understand how you can send a written document through a phone line, i.e., a fax, so the story disturbed me a mite.

The mainframe computer that once ran pretty much the entire city that I worked for was only completely understood by one man. He purchased it. He programmed it. He serviced it.

He was the only human who ever touched it once it was delivered.

Police and fire services don’t take weekends off of course so he left the computer running on Fridays, secured under lock and key.

And he had the only key.

One Monday morning he arrived at work and found a FedEx package containing a part that had been ordered for the computer. He was puzzled because nobody else could have known about whatever had gone wrong with the machine. He confirmed that no one else had been in the computer room since he left it. Then he read the packing slip and learned who had ordered the part.

It was the computer.

The machine itself recognized that a part had gone bad, automatically ordered a replacement and had it delivered overnight.

Of course I understand that some intelligent human programmed the computer to do such ” thinking “, but it’s still creepy.

That was twenty years ago.

It’s gotten worse.

Nowadays, not only do computers think for themselves, they seem to think for humans too.

The cyber world has taken over to the point that millions of people would be lost without their laptops and PC’s that allow them access to the internet.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s delve.

First, admit it, you’re on Facebook. Or Myspace. Or you’re a twit. Maybe that should be Tweet. Tweeter? I’m not sure, but the point is, millions of people worldwide logon to social networking sites every day.

That’s cool. I have no problem with people meeting other people through online services. I suppose that asking some lady for a date over the internet might not require the sweating, stammering and stuttering and all the other byproducts that the fear of rejection brings some men who attempt the face to face version. But, can you really get to know somebody by gazing at the bits and bytes edition rather than the flesh and blood one?

It seems that some people blur the lines between reality and cyberspace.

I’ve actually seen people who I knew were in the same house in the same room at the same time, having a ” chat ” with each other on Facebook.

Really. Sometimes they even get into spats. Online. Weird but true. Whatever happened to cussing each other out in private? Some ” posts ” are more positive.

I saw this ” status ” from a young relative.

I’m walking along the beach, watching the waves with my true love! It’s so romantic! ”

Well, no. You’re using at least one hand, presumably both eyes and a few brain cells to text your personal business into your phone for everybody to see.

How romantic can that be?

And then there are virtual gifts.

Somebody can actually send you a bouquet of flowers online. Of course it’s really just a pretty picture. You can’t touch them. You can’t smell them. You certainly can’t pick one of the blossoms, wrap it in wax paper and mash it between the pages of the family Bible.

Same thing with virtual cups of coffee. You can’t taste it. You can’t feel the warmth of the mug on a chilly morning. You can’t spill it in your lap, scald your privates and sue the pants off somebody.

I guess it’s the thought that counts.

On the internet you can supposedly show your support for some cause but telling the world what color underwear you’re wearing.

Seriously, I saw that.

You can play some game called FarmTown, which seems like a contradiction to me. It’s either a farm, or a town, can’t be both.

Honestly, I actually do enjoy some ’net time nearly every day.

But I have no desire to play farm. After all, I didn‘t exactly have a stellar agricultural career in real life.

And I don’t care to bicker in a public forum.

And I have a hard enough time trying to stay focused during romantic moments without fumbling around with a miniature keyboard.

Why anybody would want to know what color my skivvies are I have no clue, but if you do you’ll have to ask.

In person. Not online. Till then, I’m logging off.


Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of Howlin’ At The Dixie Moon. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com

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