On this day in 1876 Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for a device he called the telephone. Others were working on similar projects and perhaps he wasn’t really the first. At this point such things don’t really matter. He & his team came up with a working device for talking across wires.
On that day in 1876 the world shrunk by a magnitude…
Now, sure, we can push earlier for shrinking the world technologies. The various people who ended up giving us the telegraph and Mr Morse with his code. Perhaps those pesky Romans and their clever roads. So, sure, it feels the advances of technology have always been there, or at least once humans got a one up on our cousins the other great apes and moved beyond sticking chewed up leaves on the end of a stick and then poking the stick into a deep nest of tasty bugs, we’ve never stopped.
And it really is getting faster, this relentless drive we have toward the ever smaller world.
But, today, I’ve decided to blame it all on Mr Bell.
I have lots of friends who would just as soon not be plugged in. I know I have to constantly make decisions as to whether to adopt a new technology or application of some new technology. I adore the computer, something that came along in my adulthood. I really, really like the internet, and not just because of the naughty parts. I’ve witnessed the emergence and expansion of Wikipedia with awe. Today I blog, as you may have noticed. I have a Facebook page. I’ve dipped my toe into Twitter’s swirling waters.
I’m at a point where I don’t check into hotels that don’t offer free wireless connectivity.
I am pretty much plugged in.
And, I hear the wise counsel of those who would unplug. I’m more impressed with those who call for wireless sabbaticals than those who would step off the grid entirely.
But, I get the concern.
Or, at least, some of them.
I’m of the opinion all experience is mediated, and while I do privilege some non-technologically enhanced experiences, I’m not giving up my glasses, nor google searches. Voluntarily, anyway…
The real deal is that while technology isn’t completely neutral, just making the devices has consequences for lots of people, and we should be aware of what they are, for the most part, for most of us in our contemporary Western culture, the deal really is in how we use the technologies and the applications of those technologies.
Me, I live in a universe where moral decisions are all, every blessed one of them, situational.
Now, as part of the great mix of situations, one is that we are, all of us, every blessed one of us, connected in ways that technology only hints at. So, that’s part of the background. As is my own need to survive as long as possible, and my desire for the same with emotions felt more strongly to those closer to me. So, there’s tension. And, within tension, possibilities of choices. And actions. So, situational. Sure. But, morality and moral decisions are there, always, too…
So, on this day Mr Bell gave us his wonderful telephone, how do I celebrate?
It might be by not answering phones for a day.
But, that would be for me right now not an appropriate action in the situation.
But, maybe picking up the phone a tiny bit more consciously. Aware of some parts of what it means to have a phone, where it comes from, and the costs, if only the vaguest sense of the costs.
Who knows what actions might follow for me?
And, if you chose to do something similar, for you?
‘Tis a mysterious world, no doubt. With many doors open. We just have to choose which ones to walk through…