Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


A generation of zombies...

Posted 8/27/19 (Tue)

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how lifestyles have changed in just one generation.

Technology is becoming so advanced, we’re almost living in the age of the Jetsons.

A robot will vacuum your floor, an electric tube on your counter will tell you the distance from Wahpeton to Devils Lake, you can keep up on the weather just by looking at your refrigerator, Siri will talk to you in an Australian accent and we have Smart phones that could probably combine grain with the right app.

In recent weeks, I’ve discovered Apple Car Play that when connected to your car stereo through a USB cord, your iPhone or Android becomes the home screen of the car stereo.

Keep in mind I started out with a manual typewriter and listened to the little transistor radios. I’m not very tech savvy so this stuff is quite thrilling.

However, it takes a lot of time, but it sure has made things a lot more convenient, especially when we are driving down the road.

“Siri, where is the nearest Tim Horton’s donut shop?”

The response; “there are two of them, one on Fourth Street in Estevan and one on 12th Avenue North in Minot, pronounced “Minute.”

It not only tells you where these donut shops are located, but displays a map of how to get there, the distance, the speed limit, obstacles, construction zones and the whole ball of wax. It will even give you an alternate route.

These things are really slick and educational and can make our lives a lot easier, just like the Internet did after Al Gore invented it.

What’s happening though is some young people are using Internet, Smart phone and texting to do 100 percent of their communicating.

Add to that, the game apps that are available on Smart phones and players become anti-social.

Have you ever been walking down the street or in a mall and somebody bumps into you because they are texting and  aren’t watching where they are going?

Most of the time, you won’t get an apology; the person will just go back to reading their text messages with their head down while they walk away.

There are others who work in retail who absolutely refuse to make eye contact or say thank you for the purchase.

They don’t realize how important small talk is. Talking about the weather is so cliche, but there are other subjects that add humor and make a conversation memorable.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a Rockies/Dodgers game on TV and I noticed people sitting behind home plate oblivious to what is going on out in the field because they were buried in their mobile phones.

Those tickets behind home plate cost $50 or more and if I was paying $50 to watch a baseball game, that’s exactly what I would do unless it was an emergency.

I need to throw in a clarification here because not every young person is like that. Some are, and that’s who we have to be concerned with.

As a matter of fact, I have two farm employees this summer, they’re both millenials and they are working as hard as I’ve ever worked and it appears they are doing a better job than I’ve done.

I’ve always been taught to lead by example, but here these two are setting the bar higher than I’ve ever set it.

They text and Facetime and all that jazz, but they are discreet about it, they’re both very intelligent, handle conversation very well and put their phones down when something important happens.

They restore hope in society because it is a real disappointment when you encounter somebody and they don’t say a word, they don’t make an expression, they don’t even acknowledge your presence even though they just bumped in to you in the shopping center mall.

How do we get those people to change and become productive members of society?

As time goes on, those lives are going to become more challenging because business, entertainment, college, a job, all need communications skills and without them, people are going to struggle.

The new buzz phrase is “there’s an app for that.” Perhaps, but those apps aren’t going to replace human interaction. They’re not going to do your talking and your thinking for you. Neither is the computer.

Like they used to say when computers were just becoming popular, “Garbage in garbage out.”

We may have created a generation of zombies here simply because of the lack of social and communication skills. I wish them luck finding a career path.