Monday, June 05, 2006

Use it or Lose it

I was heading to my truck, parked on the 6th floor of a parking ramp when I saw a man wandering through the ramp with his armed raised. He was looking from side to side and pressing a button on his keychain that would set off an alarm or horn on his vehicle. He had clearly forgotten where he parked and was using his alarm to find his car. As I drove out of the ramp I saw him on a different floor still searching with his arm upraised and thumb pressing the button repeatedly.

I used to be good at remembering phone numbers. I could still rattle off the phone number of my home in Indiana from 40 years ago and other than my college dorm room number I can give you every one up until now. I know my in-law’s number, a few brothers and sisters and even a grandparent’s number. But something has happened recently. I was asked the number for my wife’s cell phone and I was stuck … I said, “Umm … all I know is that it is number one on my speed dial.”

That man in the parking ramp and I are victims of “Use-it-or-lose-it” syndrome. Modern technology has cause us to use totally different parts of our brains and even different parts of our body. I bet we have teenagers with the most versatile thumbs in history because they grew up using them on computer games, TV remotes, and arcade games. We have adults that have learned to dial phones, drive, and chew gum at the same time. This amazes me but what have we lost with all these advances.

It used to be on the farm that all the neighbors HAD to get together at harvest time because one farmer could not bring in the crops on time by himself. Modern technology allows more self-reliance but a loss of neighbors as friends. I have my cell phone with me at most times and I have lost meals without interruptions. I can make my car’s horn honk from a distance but don’t remember where I parked it. I can call my wife but I cannot tell others how to call her. We’ve gained but what have we traded?

“There’s the rub.” What is the tradeoff? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what you must let go for this new gadget?

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