Thursday, October 17, 2013

Parable of Technology

About 100 years ago, Thomas "John" Crapper helped popularize an idea so odd, some thought it came from the devil.
While indoor plumbing, with all its conveniences, was really cool to the youngsters, their elders wondered why you would bring that "business" into the house.

Many were afraid and annoyed by the very idea, and rightly so. When someone flushed the new-fangled john, everyone in the house could hear it. And those pipes made downright scary sounds in the walls. As if that wasn't enough, the boiler behind the furnace also had the unsettling tendency to explode.


Today, a different kind of new-fangled technology is worming its way into the household. We youngsters think it's really neat, and it is, but those of a greater generation can see all too well the pitfalls and glitches of our techy toys. They consider social media evil, and not without valid argument.

To help younger eyes understand this parable, here's a parable within a parable:

Recently, I attended a writer's group to listen to a guest speaker. The group meets in an enclosed cubical within an art gallery.

During the meeting, a cell phone started ringing.
The guilty party, a well-seasoned gentleman, apologized for the intrusion and stepped out of the room to take the call. Unfortunately, the cardboard walls of the cubical did little to muffle his voice, and the high roof made the acoustics incredible. We heard every word.

When the gentleman stepped back in, the speaker tactfully asked the man to turn off his phone for the rest of the meeting.

"Oh, I doubt it will ring again." he said. And he sat down.

 I don't think he knew.

Like this gentleman's conversation, our online exchanges - no matter how private they feel - are going to be overheard.  

Does this mean the online social arena is dangerous? Most definitely. But evil? No.
So when you feel afraid of this foreign piece of technology, walk into your "water closet." Look at your porcelain throne, a modern version of the crapper. Or maybe turn on the shower and marvel how quickly and conveniently the water becomes hot.

That's what social media will feel like a hundred years from now.
*all pics in this blog came from Microsoft Clipart collection.