I got knocked out and sliced open by a team of doctors for the sixth time in my life last week. It was my second hernia operation and it really wasn’t a big deal – I was home the next day – but the other four procedures were performed on my spinal column and one of them removed a blown out disc and implanted a chromium-cobalt and polyurethane fake one, so they were serious stuff.
Anyway, while I was staring at the ceiling in Francistown’s Riverside Hospital after this latest op, I cheered myself up by contemplating how lucky we all are to live in such medically advanced times; I mean, these guys are seriously good and they spent a great deal of their time, and a great deal of someone’s money, learning their trade.  If I’d been born much earlier I might not have made it to this ripe old age, and if I had, my quality of life would not have been what it is today.
Then, the more I thought the more I realised I’m also really glad I wasn’t born any later than 53 years ago mainly because of all the recent technological advances that can sometimes make life too easy and threaten some of our basic values; I’m thinking here about cell phones and internet toys such as Facebook.
Now please don’t get me wrong here; I’m not saying either of those modern conveniences is a bad thing,  I’m just saying I’m really thankful that I grew up without them so that I’m in a better position to use them as tools instead of crutches, and hopefully will be able to help my daughters do the same.
I hate having my cell phone on all the time, but I also love the freedom of movement it gives me.  I have business interests that require regular phone communications so if I didn’t have a cell I would need to stay in the office or employ someone to be within hearing range of the landline at all hours. I also like being accessible for my kids.
Now to be perfectly honest I don’t really use Facebook but I can see that it can be both entertaining and great for networking.  A friend helped me get onto the thing a few weeks back and almost immediately I found contact information for an old friend in California I’d lost touch with when his e-mail address was stolen along with my laptop a few years ago.  Hum… talk about letting a conveniences become a crutch, obviously I hadn’t bothered to write his address or phone number down in a safe place.
Now one of the main reasons I don’t want to log on to my Facebook homepage is that the few times I have I’ve been asked if I wish to add new friends – many of whom I have trouble identifying.  The name comes up and there are two choices: ADD or IGNORE.
The thing is that while I wouldn’t want to add many people to my contacts were I to choose to be an active Facebooker, if there is such a word, I definitely don’t want to intentionally ignore anyone who wants to make contact with me, so I do a total cop-out and just don’t log on.  I guess my big problem with these new electronic communication devices is that they are making it socially acceptable to intentionally ignore other human beings. The phone rings and you get the same option: IGNORE.
Of course sometimes these devices can provide new ways to be considerate.  For example, when we used to have parties in the backyard my wife would make a point of inviting people by SMS message instead of calling them on the phone so that if they didn’t wish to join us they would have the option of pretending they never received the invitation.
“What do you mean you didn’t know?  I sent you an SMS.”
“Oh, I guess it didn’t get through.”
I don’t know, maybe this is just the way communications are going to go in future years and maybe eventually no one will be too bothered about being ignore; maybe it’s no big deal.  I just hope the day never comes when I feel comfortable ignoring others.

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