News and Tribune


December 17, 2012

CUMMINS: When a computer replaces your best friend

If you remember when you had to walk to your TV to change channels, then you remember the dull stage of life. When modern technology took off and computers personalized, your new horizon perhaps blinded you. The laborious ordeal of walking to change channels caused man to sit for hours and watch whatever was on the screen. As a result, he regressed into a deeper state of unawareness. As technology advanced beyond expectations, man continues staring at screens, although they are tiny ones that fit in your wallet pocket. Why contemplate life’s vast possibilities when, at a moment’s notice, you can change the channel of your life by merely pointing and clicking the little monster in you hand?

  You may not remember how it was before the digital invasion, when powerful computers became the bread of life. During the pre-tech days, television meteorologists predicted the weather after going outside and looking at the sky. He then walked back in and predicted a chance of rain. There’s always a chance of rain, a storm or a chance the world will end, which, with sufficient data, a computer could predict. There is, however, the God factor, which might supersede what man has wrought.

Thanks to man’s ingenuity, drudgery is no longer a factor in his life. Automation eliminated the need for many people and robots replaced arms for those who work. Best of all, the mighty computer helps to speed up decision-making, which if delayed, could shatter one’s life. You should make decisions based on adequate information. If you are contemplating marriage, do you go to the library? No, you go to the Universal Wide Web to search for a mate.

 Do you remember using a road map to find your way? What a mess that was before GPS. Where would we be without a global positioning system to pinpoint where we are? Once you know where you are, then you can decide what to do. Say you are alone, which is traumatic. Back in the old days, however, solitude turned out better than we thought it would. Now, that you are never alone you don’t have to fear stillness, because wherever you are, your fingertips can connect you to society wherever it is. What more could you ask? You can pinpoint where you are, and then screen those you want to pop up on your screen.  

After a day’s work, we used to sit around and talk. Modern devices have practically eliminated the need for vocal cords, except to cell phone a friend, or anyone else you may know, or not know. But why waste your breath when you can instantly message someone, who delights in beeping sounds, whether he’s operating on a patient, running for an office or messaging someone else? What I’m saying is that if you’re socially maladjusted, it’s probably because you lack the means to which you can connect. Take a grandkid with you to a complex electronic store and have him use your credit card and buy the things you will need to take you into 2013 and beyond.

Don’t take me wrong; I’m for the advancement of the human race. We’ve slid back long enough and should move forward, or at least slant that way. I also know the record of my life is stored on computer chips. My financial life is locked into a microchip somewhere in a big government storage “cloud.” They keep talking cutbacks, including the elderly. Aging is cutback in itself, but if the government slashes us, then we’re doomed.

There’s no escaping it. I must learn to enjoy the fruits of automation and appreciate the role digits play, but yesterday, I had a real bad computer day. The doctor pulled up my life on his big screen. He studied it and kept scrolling from here to there, which revealed how my body had suffered wear and tear. He kept probing at my profile on his screen, never using any type of scope on me. When I asked how many days remain, he’d already pulled the next old guy up.

Desperately needing solitude, I went home just as one of God’s predictable storms hit, knocking out my computer and telephones. Telephones are a nuisance anyway. You can’t call family, friends or enemies, because they’re on a phone. If they call back, you’re lined up calling someone else back. I need my computer though, because I’m tied up in it.

— Contact Terry Cummins at

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