Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whatever Happened to Independent Thought?

Last night I stopped at a convenience store on my way home for something to eat.  Yeah, I know the 7/11 isn't exactly Whole Foods but I like nachos better than tofu; sue me.

Anyway, I was looking around when the clerk came out of a back room and told me they didn't have any power.  All the lights were on, the coolers were running and Adult Contemporary was flowing out of the store speakers at it's typical rate but hey, what do I know?  I figured she was referencing some power source that ran the cash register and maybe the credit/debit card machines, fair enough.  Everything in the store had a price sticker on it so I said, "No problem, I have cash."

Then this conversation happened:

Her: 'Umm, we don't have any power.'

Me: 'Really, it's no problem.  I have cash.'  (I pull a few bills out of my pocket to prove it.)

Her: 'But we don't have any power, I can't sell you anything.'

Me: 'Do you have a calculator?'

Her: (Deer in the headlights look.)

Me: 'If you don't have a calculator we can tally this up on a piece of paper, tax and all.  I don't even need change.'

Her: 'My manager will be here shortly.'

I walked out.

Here's the point.  Humans dominate the planet because we have an amazing ability to solve both simple and complex problems in a matter of seconds.  When I witness another person simply refusing to use that ability I absolutely cringe.  Maybe I'm just getting older and grumpier, but I swear that this happens exponentially more often than it used to.

There's a larger problem here though and it has to do with advanced technology and what it has done to our thought process.  Instead of using technology as a tool, even technology as (relatively) simple as a touchscreen cash register, we use it as a crutch and as an excuse to be lazy, simpleminded drones.  Our reliance on a computer's ability to process raw data has dumbed us down instead of making us smarter and I think that's a tragedy.

Now, I'm no Luddite, I love that I have the world at my fingertips and I have a deep respect for what modern technology has made us capable of.  I just think that letting your brain atrophy while on iPhone life-support is an objectionable state of being.

Write a letter, a real one.  Have a conversation that doesn't involve wall posts on Facebook.  Do some math in your head.   Just exercise your brain, you'll be happy you did.

2 comments:

BataviaBlogMistress said...

Another great "deer in the headlights" moment...try giving a cashier $10.54 for an item that costs $9.54. Can you say clueless?

Anonymous said...

Well we live in an age where Fish Clubbing by the lead Republican Candidate is television fare and Computers and Technology dictates more moves than we could ever imagine. Says a lot.... BUT REALLY....FISH CLUBBING?????