An adventure finding nature's technology - Three of my aunts were walking a narrow path and we were following them. The path went through beautiful tropical forest and a lush valley until after twenty minutes we finally reached our destination. Excitement rose because we could hear and smell the water ahead of us, and relief because we were near the end.
The spot was a tropical beauty, picture postcard perfect. A small water fall fell into a pool about 20 feet below. Large flat rocks lined the edges of the pool. The pool shaded on one side by trees, the other in full sunlight. The water was crystal clear and cold. It was the most inviting place on the planet.
We children were there to take a bath. We plunged into the icy water, screaming with both shock and delight. We passed a bar of soap and washed our hair. Shivering with cold, we laid on the flat rocks to warm ourselves.
When it was time to go, my aunts climbed to the edge of the waterfall and filled the jugs they brought with water. We were filled with awe and admiration when they placed the tall, heavy jugs on their heads and without using their arms to balance the jugs, walked back the way we came.
To get fresh water, they made this walk everyday. It was a novelty for us, four children ages 7-12, visiting from a very modern life in Michigan. We experienced a walk back in time. We were walking a path that our mother had taken many times when she was a child. It was thrilling.
Until one year, they wrote my mother that they were finally able to dig a well and install a pump. My aunts were delighted. But the memory of that day made me realize that when we gain something, we also lose something too.
Technology - the ripples are endless. Technology begets technology.
It's amazing to me that the invention on the cotton gin allowed a boon to the textile industry and that production of textiles using automated looms, with its punch card technology would be the predecessor to the computer.
Whether good or bad I sometimes think that it will take two generations or so to really determine the ripple effects of certain technologies. An example is television. When first introduced it was a wonder. Instant information, education, and entertainment. A symbol of prosperity. I thought it helped to expand the mind.
A few channels are worth viewing but right now, I see it mostly as a medium that dulls and numbs the mind, a type of addiction or smokescreen. Material messages bombard, minimum standards and the overly dramatic exalted, and is more bizarre entertainment than informational or educational. The screen is a feast for the eyes, but starving the mind.
Remember this? We were washing clothes by hand when my mother got this older version of a modern convenience.
When I was seven, I got my arm stuck in one while helping my mother with the laundry. I impulsively put my hand between the rollers and it took my arm through up to my shoulder. Traumatized but okay, I didn't want to go near it. But Mami said it was either that or wash our clothes by hand. No way, not fun at all, hand numbing work. I was so thankful when we got a modern washing machine.
Dishwasher - No. My mother had four daughters, why would she need a dishwasher. Since I can't stand the thought of putting even the slightest remnant of food stuck on a plate into anyone's dishwasher, I must wash the plate first. So it's usually clean when I put the dish in anyways. So why bother with the redundancy. My girlfriends and sisters say, you don't have to do that. Umm. Yes I do.
Internet - Really fun and information at your fingertips, but addictive and a real time sucker.
Cell phones - At first I was against them. But I changed my mind when 9/11 happened. Cell phones allowed loved ones to say I love you and good bye one last time. I discovered they were a lifeline.
Indoor lights and plumbing - good. Refrigerators, washing machines, and stoves. - good. Cars vs. Horses - good. But with every innovation, there had to be something lost. Maybe those losses will be missed or not. Maybe the losses were unwarranted. Maybe there were many wonderful things lost. But the next generation will never know of them.
When I look at technology's journey during my grandmother's lifetime, then my mother's lifetime, and now mine, it seems amazing. If you say land line, dial telephone, television tubes, eight tracks, cassette player, or walkman, kids today will look at you as though you've talking klingon-ese or something.
I am excited to see what the next fifty years will bring. During my son's lifetime, or his son's after him, what wonders or of technology will be in place. How much will be gained and how much will be lost and forgotten? Will technology gains offset the negatives? Only time will tell.