By Jim Hicks
(It’s hard to believe this column was written 10 years ago. But I noticed it in the files and decided it was worth a “re-read” while we each can evaluate how technology is changing our lives. If there is a “big brother” watching us … we may have identified him.)
April 28, 2011 — The Bench Sitters have been reading in the paper about how new technology just keeps invading everyone’s privacy.
We saw an article that claimed close to 90 percent of the people living in this country own a cell phone, and more and more people are deciding to drop their “land lines” and rely totally on the cell phones for personal communication.
But we also read technology exists that will keep track of every place you go or visit 24-hours a day, seven days a week if you need a cell phone along. And, some of the new ones do that even if you turn them off.
We knew the big computers, humming away in some far-off building, were keeping track of every web-site you visit, every purchase you make over the internet, all the activity of your credit cards, and lots of data about your health condition.
Now it looks like that giant data-base in far off cyberspace may be tracking your movements both day and night.
If you start seeing a lot of “pop-up” advertising about stool softeners on your screen, it’s possible the “big computer that keeps tabs on all of us” may have determined you are spending more than 40 minutes a day in bathrooms.
And you may get “cold calls” on your phone from “stock brokers” if you increase the limit on your credit cards.
Young people are growing up with all this technology, and many would rather “text” someone than actually have a conversation.
We can’t just pick on the younger generation. Some adults are jumping right into the techno-world with equal enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, back down on the Main Drag this week the Bench Sitters got in a debate about what is funny and what is not.
Have you ever noticed that some of the best jokes you hear are sometimes the “most sick?” Perhaps these jokes are really a test of our ability to laugh at tragedy or difficult times.
Whatever the reasons, these certainly are a check on what kind of a sense of humor you possess.
One of the funniest stories we’ve heard in a long time exemplifies this point with amazing clarity.
It was about the man who lived in a small fishing village on the coast of Alaska. His wife had disappeared one weekend and he had the local search-and-rescue team looking everywhere possible.
Finally, after several days of waiting, there was a knock on his front door. When he opened it, the Captain of the rescue team was standing there with a serious look on his face.
“Bob,” he said, “we have some bad news, some good news and some VERY GOOD news for you.
The worried husband braced himself and said, “Give me the bad news first.”
“Well,” the Captain said, “we were dragging Knakic Harbor this morning and found your wife’s body.”
Bob sagged against the door jam, gathered his composure and asked . . . “what in the world could the good news be?”
“When we pulled her up there were three dozen of the biggest crabs we’ve seen in years hanging on. That catch was worth over $1,000 and you are entitled to half of that,” the Captain said.
Bob was still visibly shaken when he asked, “What could the VERY GOOD news possibly be?
Then the Rescue Captain smiled and said . . . “We are pulling her up again in the morning and you’ll get a share of that catch too.”
Next week the boys on the Bench promise to visit about more contemporary news from around the village.