What do smartphones and marijuana have in common? They are both addictive and both appeal to the most vulnerable in our communities – our children and adults with addictive behaviors! But what does that have to do with technology? It used to be that when one became addicted to marijuana, that person had to physically find a supplier, which initiated travel to places that they wouldn’t normally frequent; not so today. Because of technology, the dealer is just a keystroke away.
My immediate concern is that vulnerable populations are hit the hardest by the merchants who facilitate the ease with which our children, and our less than distinguished friends and neighbors can obtain whatever drugs their poor little heart’s desire. Let’s not delude ourselves, there is some value in TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Many of us use these platforms in perfectly normal ways – make a fool of ourselves, promote our points of view, market our businesses or just simply respond to all the above. However, it’s the accessibility and strategic anonymity that these platforms offer – absent the critical security protections and firewalls which make them dangerous for our children and those of least resistance; that should be the concern for every responsible parent, teacher and concerned members of a community who deserve better.
But let’s begin at the beginning, or as some would say, “when our problems started,” when that burst of smart technology heralded by the smart phone which Apple introduced in 2007, the older generation saw and felt that a new day had dawned; for them they either had to play catch up or live on the fond memories of the days they had uncomplicated conversations with friends and relatives. This emerging technology immediately created a new under-class in 2007, no one, “not a one” in my age group would even contemplate the possibility of a pilgrimage to the Apple store or wherever they sold that new “Satan”, to sign up for what they saw as their end of days and the new era of the Robots. They’re not wrong about the robots, but my generation is way too negative on the smartphone and the awesome possibilities and opportunities it presents for them.
Let me share a few – (a) you will be able to communicate with your children and grandchildren in real time; isn’t that a blessing? You will not live in that “old world,” but you would have transitioned wisely in a new and interesting reality; isn’t it fun to watch your kids lose a bunch of their precious information to a glitch on their precious little iPhones, when all you had to do was write stuff in your old reliable notebook. Don’t worry the little buggers have back-up, it’s just too much of a bother for their precious time. But I digress! (b) You now have access to the universe in a flash, any info about your health, (a big deal), the weather, (it matters as you grow older), science and technology (that dirty word). (c) Us older folk don’t think much about the relationship that smart phones (Satan) has to our safety and security, but we must! We think of it as an invasion of our precious privacy, an unwelcome intrusion in our special world, (boring), that intrusion started with your birth certificate. Think just how much safer and secure you are with a smart phone, get lost and someone will find you, that flip phone just won’t cut it, ask the little robot on the phone and you’ll get answers, but more important, you are safer!
The sad reality is that many of the older generation have been left behind, you are now un-officially a new underclass. I know the connotations are bad, but you must also be aware that you are much needed because of your wisdom, common sense, ability to write, to listen and a whole arsenal of intelligence to assist your children and grandchildren in their quest to out-smart technology. They too have created a new un-official underclass; one that knows everything, listens to no one (it’s on my phone), never has a back-up plan, has no idea what a timetable is, and gets scammed constantly because calculating 10% of one hundred dollars is brain surgery.
Oh yes! Technology by its nature is technical and not many of us handle the technical stuff well, but the benefit of this new tech is that it defuses the technicality with simple tutorials created with you and me in mind.
Look, I am not saying the speed and urgency of technology is the best thing, and maybe the Universe agrees, because Covid, earthquakes and wars have seized our attention and limited the expansion of any number of technological adventures, but progress is real and imminent, so there is no point in becoming a radical extremist, non-technology believer, you only hurt yourself. Stay calm, trust the process, every upheaval, every progressive or un-progressive movement has created change for the better! And I need a cheer from Black people, because our future and our possibilities are now greatly enhanced by Change – we remain an underclass only if we choose to be, technology is making sure of that!