From the Braver Institute
Sure, I am thankful for all of the traditional things to be thankful for: my family, my home, my friends, my job, food, clothing, shelter, and the list goes on and on (although I am not trying to downplay the significance of these things which I am truly thankful for), but I am also thankful for the things that can sometimes go unnoticed.
This year I have to say that I am thankful for modern technology.
All technology is modern at one time or another, but it seems that the technology of today is more marvelous than at any time in history. Thanks to modern technology and the good Lord above, my oldest daughter is alive and well today. Twenty years earlier she would not have lived. Indeed I am thankful for the technology that kept her alive after she was born.
I am thankful for the technology that makes the internet possible. The internet allows me to know what I want to know, when I want to know it.
My first taste of the internet (or something like it) came in high school. There were three computers in the entire school system, and one of them had the old style modem where you pressed a telephone handset into two rubber cups, and then dialed a phone number to connect it to another computer. A friend of mine had a father who worked for Northern Michigan University and he had his dads login information. We would sneak out of algebra class and into the computer room, and tap into the wealth of knowledge NMU had. Okay, we were really just playing a game called “Oregon Trail,” but at least we had to read instead of just play. You see, that computer printed everything out on tractor-feed paper. There were no graphics.
The internet rather quickly evolved, and for a time I was unable to keep up with its evolution. The internet at the time was often referred to as the “information superhighway,” and there I was stranded with my encyclopedias, hitchhiking down the information backroads. It made me crazy to think that everything I wanted to know was out there, but I had no access to it.
Now I have that access almost everywhere I go. Having instant information at my fingertips is something that I am very thankful for.
The internet has also allowed me to be close to loved ones who are, at times, very far away. It has allowed me to interact with many old friends who I had once thought I might never hear from again. I am thankful for the technology that allows us to stay in touch.
Speaking of staying in touch, I am thankful for cell phones. I can’t believe I am saying that since I cringe every time my phone rings. There is no happy voice inside my head that gleefully says “oh, I wonder who is calling me now?” No, the voice that is used when my phone rings is very audible and it comes straight out of my mouth as an exasperated “now what?” I’m not saying that every call I get is somehow bad, but I can think of so many things I would rather be doing than talking on the phone.
Aside from all of that, I remain thankful for the thing. I speak with my mother almost every night. I call just to make sure that everything is going alright for her. I have two siblings that live near her, and they are checking on her too, but for my own peace of mind I want to hear it right from her. Most readers probably remember the days when a long-distance phone call was made only on rare occasions. The expense of such a call forbade the possibility of merely checking in. Long-distance calls were usually reserved for things relating to birth, death, or marriage.
I am thankful I can call my mom for no reason other than to say “hi,” and the cost of the call is of no concern. For that reason alone, I am thankful for cell phones.
I am thankful for (this kind of goes back to the internet) computers. Computer technology allows me to write this column wherever I am without the need to lug a typewriter around. I wish I could say that I have written from all sorts of exotic locales around the world, but I haven’t. I have written from exotic locales all over the Upper Peninsula though, thanks to computers.
Being able to send what I have written instantly to a newspaper office from wherever I am is a wonderful thing. Computers, and the internet allow me to stay in touch with the last thing on this year’s list that I am thankful for, and that is you, the reader. Thank you for buying this newspaper. Thank you for taking a moment to read my weekly blab.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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