Are We Going To Become Village Idiots?


I was working away on my laptop with the TV droning on in the background. I wasn't really paying attention to the furniture store commercial that came on. 

Until I heard: "And the lid of the compartment between the sectional seating automatically closes."

And then for some reason it had my full attention.

Pretty innocuous stuff, you might be thinking. But wait a minute.

In this day of automation and vast technology and smart everything, do we really also need a sectional with a built-in compartment that has a lid that closes on its own? 

Are we soon going to become a world of "dumbed-down" fools that forget everything we've ever learned because automation now does it for us? 

This obviously stuck in my craw.


I'm already worried that my grandson is growing up in an age of such technological development that he may never learn how to actually talk on a phone. Why should he when he can text?

Will he learn how to sign his name to a check? Oh yeah, he probably won't ever use a check. But if he ever actually needs to sign his name, will he have been taught cursive writing in school?  

Will he be adept at spelling? I mean, texting is all about abbreviated words without the vowels, isn't it? Will he learn how to type actual words?

Are we growing a world of village idiots? 

I know that I'm old school about a lot of things. I guess that's what happens after you hit a certain age. 

I remember reading George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four, (or 1984). His vivid imagination churned out a book, born of misery and grief, that had us thinking about a dystopian world. A time far beyond what we could imagine. 

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." (First line in the book)

But the actual year 1984 seemed a long way away when I graduated from high school in 1975. And then it came and went and years passed, and we are now past the middle mark of 2017.


I just don't think, even as imaginative as I happen to be, that I ever could have conjured up the world we live in now. 

I'm showing my age here, but I grew up using a refrigerator that did not automatically make ice cubes. (However it is compelling to add here that I grew up calling refrigerators ice boxes.)

Ice trays went to the local landfill and automation created perfectly shaped ice cubes. We thought we'd died and gone to heaven. Ovens magically cleaned themselves. And so it went.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology and computers and the internet. It is a vast playground for me. But really, can't automatic everything go a bit too far?

Who on earth needs a compartment lid between sectional seats to automatically close?

Do we need to pay more for something we could easily close on our own? It only takes a second to do. So is it going to be the reason we buy a sectional? 

I'd love to read your thoughts on this matter. But first let me go empty my ice cube tray so I can fix myself a glass of sweet tea.
 


28 comments

  1. I have long since thought we were dumbing down ourselves, not just our children. I would love to blame it all on technology, but I think it may also be that we have become lazy. I remember my dad letting my teachers know that I would not be using a calculator for math. Any type of math. Boy, did that rub some teachers the wrong way! Me, I liked doing math the long way. I made that a mandatory thing for my girls, although I did cave when it came to them using calculators in high school. Spelling was starting to be slowly fazed out when my oldest 2 girls were in sixth to eighth grade. That didn't become an issue, as every night we had spelling at dinner time and the younger girls also spelled words as we waited for the school bus. My girls, all 5 of them, also knew how to make change by the time they were six. That is a lost art!
    As for ice cube trays, give me the old fashioned metal ones. Love those things and I am on the look out for some. I bought some of those silicone ones, thinking they would be good. Oh my goodness, I do not like them at all! The ice tastes funny, even after I used vinegar to clean them.
    I really don't think it is our age. I think we have just lost a ton of common sense when we started allowing machines to do everything for us.

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    1. When I was in school we didn't have calculators in class. Maybe I would have been better at Math! Good for you for making sure your kids weren't missing out!

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  2. It depends on the mechanism for closing. We put a low-tech spring on our front door so that it shuts by itself, to keep the bugs out. It's great when your hands are full--the door has a lever, not a knob, so you can open it with your elbow and a shove of the hip, and it shuts behind you. If we're talking about some kind of electronic device with sensors, then ICK.
    My kid's spelling is atrocious in French--not good because she attends school in French in France. I blame it on texting with friends. She spells extremely well in English, despite my never having spent time teaching it. I'm the only person she texts in English, and if she misspells anything, I correct it.
    I still remember the phone numbers of my long-dead grandmas, but I don't know my kid's number because I usually just tap on the log and it's there. Tap log, tap name, voilĂ . Lazy! If I need to call from another phone, I will be stuck. OK, I'm going to memorize it now.

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    1. Well, I totally understand the door. But just don't get the sectional lid. However, I can be obtuse at times...

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  3. Technology has gone way over board for me.

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  4. I agree completely and have used "1984" as a point of reference for years. I see things happening completely in line with the book..ie, retail brick and mortar stores are closing at a rate of 31% down from the previous year. As much as I love amazon, it's easy to see how we are becoming under one umbrella and we can stay in our homes and have everything delivered. Not a good thing if something happens to the one umbrella. In Barbara Kingsolver's fabulous book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, she states that our original communities within a 50 mile radius contained everything we needed.....and, if something went wrong such as bad lettuce, food stuffs, disease, it was contained within that 50 mile radius. Now, if we have an outbreak of bad beef, whatever, it can affect the whole country. I try to buy local, but so many products aren't available(I'm in rural area, 1 1/2 hrs from nearest large store) so I order on line. It's really a vicious cycle.

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  5. Well, a lot of us are already pretty dumbed down. I've found that in my family, the ones with the most education and the highest-paying jobs tend to be the most dumbed down. For some reason, they start acting like they are in junior high again, and just can't anticipate that things won't always go as planned. They will get into their vehicles they've warmed up remotely, and leave a coat or jacket behind, figuring that they will just hop out and go right into a building. But if they walk up to the door of their destination and find that it is locked, they stand there shivering and get mad at whomever didn't unlock the door, rather than being mad at themselves for not having a coat!

    Meanwhile, I am married to a modern-day Daniel Boone and we never go anywhere without hats, coats, gloves, flashlights, batteries, wool blankets, trail mix and water, maps, compasses (no GPS!), and so on. My husband's view is, if you drive a truck as old as his, you'd better be prepared for anything! We once got lost in the woods on a fishing trip (which was dumb of us), but my husband had a compass on a lanyard around his neck and we used it to figure out the way back to the truck. It took a long time and wasn't cool and fun like such adventures seem to be on reality shows. But I always am glad when we take off in the truck and I see that he's remembered to bring the compass.

    I'm dumb in some areas, such as counting change and figuring out fractions. I blame it on the fact I was afraid of my fourth grade math teacher, Edna "Bulldog" Smith, and I just never felt comfortable with math after being in her class! But that's not a good excuse, and I should have worked harder at learning those skills.

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    1. I imagine your husband would veto the sectional with the automatic lid then! Good for you guys. I don't have GPS either, or use a smart phone. Have to do things the old-fashioned way. They actually have remotes to warm up the car? Never heard of it.

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    2. Well, what I meant is, I have family members who have cars sitting outside that they start up with a remote device. If they have left the heater control turned on, then the heater starts blowing when the car starts running. I don't know if there is a remote that only starts the heater, but not the car. Could be! We have to just go out and start our cars by getting in them! And, you're right, my husband probably wouldn't like that automatic closing lid. He would regard it as something else around the house that could break. He gets so mad when things like that break, and they often do!

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    3. Well you know I'm very literal. I didn't make that connection!

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  6. When I was younger I won every spelling bee. Now that I've been using spell check for so many years I swear my spelling skills have suffered! I have to think twice about words that used to come so easily to me.

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    1. So did I! I get so irritated when I'm reading news online and they can't spell.

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    2. I have never used spell check on my computers. I always turn that function off!

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  7. Oh Brenda, this really hits a chord with me! It has been a big concern of mine for some time now. Does anyone remember the end of the movie "Wall-E"? All the people in recliner like chairs being brought everything they need electronically and staring at screens all day. Not only have they lost much of their intelligence and creativity but most of the use of their muscles so they are physically incapable of much at all. That may seem extreme but we could easily get to that point. Those electronic speakers like "Alexa" and such are all the rage now. You don't have to get out of your chair to turn the heat up or down, turn lights on or off, play music, watch TV, you can order anything online simply by speaking it. Goodness knows what else they can do but I do know they monitor everything we say and much of that goes to companies for "research". Talk about 1984! I will say those devices could be helpful for those that have physical disabilities but I'm not so sure for the rest of us!

    I once went to the store, the bank and bought gas and did not once speak to a person! Everything was automated including checking myself out at the store. When I was younger I had a retail job and worked a register where I counted change back to protect both the customer and myself. Like Deb said, that is a lost art!

    I remember going over spelling words with my kids every morning before school but these days it is suddenly not so important??? Not teaching cursive is disturbing as well. In the future will anyone be able to read our important historical documents like the Declaration of Independence all written in cursive!

    I'd better stop here. You can see I sure do understand and agree with you and everyone leaving comments here!

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    1. I sure don't want some speaker in my home listening to what I say and then doing it. Good grief, but that sounds ridiculous.

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  8. Brenda, My husband and I can't believe how things are going. I try to keep up, to a point, but it's never ending. There are times I feel life was actually simpler when we were growing up. They don't even teach incursive writing anymore and all kids can use calculators and computers. No wonder college graduates can't spell or calculate things without technology.

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    1. Well, what do the clerks do at the stores when they've never learned to count out change and something breaks down with their system? Scares me.

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  9. When it comes right down to it, that option may sound great to begin with, but what do we do when the mechanism malfunctions/breaks? Will you be able to OPEN it manually, what if it is stuck in the open position.
    YES, I am in the glass half EMPTY, versus half FULL mindset.
    The more options/features something has the more chances for breakdown, more expensive to repair.
    Do we really need AUTOMATED TOILET SEATS? Lid LIFTS as you approach, seat LIFTS with the wave of your hand over the sensor. SEAT lowers and LID closes 15 seconds after you walk away.Surely a MAN invented this!
    CONVENIENCE is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but we can take it too far.
    I like being able to do things myself. Empty and fill OLD FASHION ICE TRAYS ($11.80 at Walmart). Wash dishes faster (and do a better job) than most people can LOAD the DISHWASHER. Saves time, water and electricity too.
    I like to make BREAD.Got a bread maker a few years back, used it ONCE. Didn't like the BREAD it made.
    Donated it to church for rummage sale. I have an EASY NO KNEAD recipe. I bought a thermometer to ensure optimum PROOFING of yeast and have the pleasure of having made it with my own two hands.My reward for"a job well done"is delicious bread and cinnamon rolls.
    EASIER is not always BETTER.
    I will use a calculator when I balance my checkbook AFTER I have done it with paper and pencil, helps keep my mind sharp. "Use IT or lose IT" becomes even more important in old age.
    SNUGGLES TO THE PUPSTERS!

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    1. And we all know that the more things something can do, the more things that break.

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  10. I remember being so freaked out when reading 1984 in high school class. Surely that would never happen. Orwell might have missed it by 30 decades but we may be fast approaching it. I guess kids today have to be experts in the tech world in order to get a job someday. But my secret obsession is reading all the homesteading blogs where families raise their kids to be self-sufficient. At least some of the old ways will go on.

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    1. Those homesteaders seem to be responsible adults. Not wanting their children to be too dependent on things outside of their brains.

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  11. Hi Brenda~

    I have been sitting here contemplating your post. I agree with every word of it!

    I graduated high school in 1974, so we didn't have computers, and I'm not sure if I even knew what a calculator was. Penmanship was my 5th hour class. All of my papers were written in cursive, or we got an F on the paper. We only had three electric typewriters in our typing class, so we had to take turns using them, that was an exciting day when it was your turn!

    At home, the television did not have a remote control, (but I have to say, I love my remote!), we actually had to get off the couch to change the channel, which by the way there were only 3. My car was not automatic, and we had to roll down the widows by hand, can you imagine!

    Yes, things have certainly changed, and I am glad for many of those changes, but, I think it has made a very lazy, entitled generation. My brother-in-law, is a manager at a large facility where we live, and has actually had to have training on, "how to treat the, millennials" that work there, very pathetic.

    When you were referring to, Orwell's, 1984, it made me think of the movie, Soylent Green, do you remember that movie, it was horrifying! I don't think the young people have any respect for the elderly, or even people my age... ;0) They would just as soon not have us collecting SS checks, and wasting their money . . . it makes my heart sad.

    Cell phones usage is out of control! In our area, we have had so many fatal car accidents that have been attributed to cell phone use, either from talking, but mostly texting. I have watched people go into a restaurant and not even speak to each other the whole meal, they were too busy texting . . . maybe to each other!

    Well, I guess I got way off subject so . . . having a compartment on your couch that has a lid the closes by it's self . . . what next?!

    Thank you for making me think today, it was refreshing!

    Hugs,
    Barb

    P.S. I still have metal ice cube trays... :0)

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    1. I have read that millennials have all sorts of problems as adults. They haven't had to use their brains much. I see people in restaurants doing that. Ignoring everyone around them. Pathetic.

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  12. Brenda,

    In most schools they have gotten rid of cursive writing. And today I was talking to a mom who told me where her kids go to school there are no books. Everything is done on the computer or iPad and she is worried that because of it her kids are being brainwashed.

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    1. No books? What dumb ass thought that one up I wonder?

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  13. My husband taught middle schoolers until he retired last year. They had no idea how to read a clock with hands. Everything is digital for them. They really freaked out when he showed them his Acutron watch with no face!

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  14. This struck a cord, Brenda. I come from the era of ice boxes and ice cube trays that had the metal levers. I often wonder if technology is a runaway train. The other day, I spent (wasted) 40 minutes talking to one of ATT/Directv's tele-robots. Finally, I got through to an actual human.


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  15. coming from a graduate of high school in 1984 and reading the book, society needs to dial back and get back to the old fashion basics. Im shocked that my children don't spend more time writing in school and cursive, not so much. Although I appreciate some of the conveniences that technology has provided I still think we need to be taught the essentials of living with no automation . What infuriates me more then anything is calling a business and having to deep dive into their IVR just to get to a customer service rep. Okay, I'm done. Aren't you glad you asked.

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