All I Wanted Was a Private Phone Line and the Yellow Pages

Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing?  A gift from the gods and goddesses?  The greatest thing since sliced bread or maybe Pistachio ice cream?

Or maybe it’s just been a great way to turn a few people into billionaires and keep a lot of other people off the streets with jobs that create more and more chaos in our lives.

Oh, sure, we can now sit at home in our underwear and order just about anything we want without ever leaving the Barcalounger.  And we can stalk people online and call it Googling.  We can hear ear-blasting sound clips that startle us out of that underwear when we least expect them and thought we were just reading a little story about somebody’s garden tips.

And we can keep up with the rich and famous and the not rich at all and not the least bit famous on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the gods and goddesses know what else.  And we can get medical advice from people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and could kill you in a heartbeat if you followed everything you read online.

But still.

Today there’s news that Russian bots are now attacking the Republicans.  If there was ever a sense of irony, I’m feeling it right now.  And I ask, what would we do without the Internet?

Or perhaps more to the point, what DID we do without the Internet?

Well, for one thing, we did our work at our regular jobs without having to learn an additional job aka computer operator.  Nobody changed our typewriters every year with updated new models that made it twice as hard to do the work.  Our work was valued because we took pride in it and there was no computer to do it.

We shopped at our local stores and sometimes ordered things through mail order catalogs that came in the – yeah, you got it – the mail.  Nobody seemed to be out to shutter every small  business in their effort to become – yeah, you got it – a billionaire.

We heard from the family a couple of times a month and not every single bloody day with the details of every single bloody thing going on.  And friends either called or wrote or visited each other and never said, “If you want to know what I’m doing, check Facebook,” as if Facebook replaced real friendship.

The answer is, we got along just fine.

And the reason is that we were living our real lives, not our virtual lives.  We worked in our gardens and drove our ordinary cars and met our neighbors and kids got outside to play and create their own little worlds and the only helicopter parent any of us knew was the guy in the reserves who flew in a helicopter every month to be a weekend warrior.

We live in a different world now, a world that was created for military purposes but quickly got absorbed by people who saw a great way to make a buck or several billion off our gullibility.

We live in a world now where people anywhere on the globe can influence the politics of any other place on the globe without leaving those Barcaloungers or getting out of that underwear.

We live in a world where people can torment or humiliate each other and share that humiliation with half a million viewers until somebody commits suicide.

We’ve lost our privacy and our perspective.  We can no longer distinguish between shit and Shinola, but the tech kids just keep churning out those updates and raking in the bucks.

No, the world is not all bad, but there are plenty of people, like the San Diego sisters who’ve been whacking the hell out of low income housing while – oh, yeah – pulling in dollars that should have gone someplace where they could do some good, so sometimes it’s hard to see the good.

I know, I know I’ll be told to keep thinking positively, but when you get to be my age and see what the Internet has made possible – not to mention all the collateral throwaway technology – last year’s iPhone is so last year – it gets harder all the time.

I mean, my brand new computer just stopped, gongs and bells went off and I don’t know why.  All I ever  wanted from technology was a private phone line and a telephone book.

Was it too much to ask?

There are always trade-offs, I know, but deals with the devil have scarred many a dealer who thought it would all be Pistachio ice cream and cake.  People have become billionaires with the Internet, to be sure, but I don’t know a single one of them personally.

Do you?



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