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Bad Signs




Have you seen this new picture-taking device that has gained popularity? I first started seeing them at the theme parks and specifically with the Asian tourists because they are always so far ahead of the rest of the world with technology. For those of us who are absolutely incapable of taking a selfie, because we seem to have unnaturally short arms, the device makes a hell of a lot of sense. As I started seeing more of these however, with four foot telescoping capability and built in levels, it occurred to me that the existence of these devices might be a very bad sign indeed.

If you think about it, this device completely eliminates the need to have to ask anyone to take a picture of you. This could be because you don’t speak the native language and you are embarrassed, but I doubt that is the appeal in most cases. I believe that there are two reasons this device is so attractive to people. One: because they do not want to have to interact with any strangers out in public whatsoever. Two: because they do not trust strangers not to steal their camera from them. And then I know that you can throw a few control freaks in there who are unwilling to relinquish their cameras to amateurs, because they believe that they are the next Annie Leibovitz, because of course, she gets her most famous shots at the damn theme parks all of the time.

It is a symptom of a huge problem that we are struggling with in our society. We are choosing to isolate ourselves from each other more and more. We can drive through the ATM without interacting with a single person. If we are really diligent we can go to the grocery without speaking a single word to another human being. We can eliminate thousands of human interactions by using our computers. When we allow other individuals to isolate themselves this way, we have no idea where their mental health is at, and we could be cultivating a shitload of serial killers in our country right now, but we wouldn’t have a fucking clue because they never have to talk to anybody.

Not only is engaging in normal healthy human interaction good for our community, it is good for us ourselves. It is a fantastic way to share support and positivity with people that we have never even met before. I make a point of starting conversations with strangers as often as I can. It is good for the mind and for the spirit. It is even great for the brain to involve ourselves in communication with people who do not speak a common language, and I am always amazed how much information we can exchange without using words.

Just like so many things in life, technology has an equal capacity to do good and to do evil. Try to remember this when you make choices in using technology and especially when these choices are setting an example for your kids. I know that one of the best things that I can do for my children is to show them as many healthy and positive interactions between myself and the members of our community as I possibly can. No, I do not plan on ever purchasing one of these self-picture-taking thingies, and yes, I plan to ask strangers to take our family pictures more often.

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