In the winter of 1906, Britain’s Punch magazine published a joke about the future of technology. Under the headline, “Forecast For 1907″ a black-and-white cartoon showed a well-dressed Edwardian couple sitting in a London park. The man and woman are turned away from each other, an antenna protruding from their hats. In their laps are little black boxes, spitting out ticker tape. A caption reads: “These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady is receiving an amatory (love message) and the gentleman some racing results. Well, it would not be (1907) but a 100 years later (2007) Steve Jobs would introduce to the world the first Apple iPhone.
Today, not only can we sit in parks and receive amatory messages and race results, we can also – summon all of the world’s knowledge with just a few taps of our thumbs, listen to virtually every song ever recorded, and communicate instantly with everyone we know. And more than two billion people worldwide (including three-quarters of all Canadians) now have this magic at their fingertips. However, there are those who say that just as God looked down critically on the first apple and its access to the tree of knowledge; so too, we should do the same with these latest apples and their access to trees of knowledge. But don’t count me among the worm finders.
The honest truth is, people have always been put off by the strange power of new technologies. For instance, did you know that both reading and writing were originally looked upon, as if the sky was falling?
Reading – Erasmus, the great theologian, bemoaned the invention of the printing press: “Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of endless new and worthless books?”
Writing – Socrates, the famous philosopher, said of the invention of penmanship tools: “Writing will melt the brains of our Athens youth, taking away their ability to memorize.”.
However, about the worst thing in today’s world is to not be able to read and to write. Yes, Erasmus and Socrates were sincere, but sincerely wrong.
The bottom line? I believe readers and writers are smart enough to figure out healthy smart phone use.