BY HARRY MISIKO
Washingtonians are clever— and they know it. With that pride, the biggest mistake you canmake is letting them know that you are putting them to test.
And for that reason, I must disclose that for last two months, I have secretly researched these ‘clever’ people’s dependency on technology— an openly visible aspect of their culture.
At home, on bus and train, at work, in coffee shops, hotels and streets, I have been feigning ignorance and asking basic questions about the U.S. political capital and its environs.
“Hey! I’m headed for the White House for a press conference. Can you please direct me?” I asked a man as we reached the DuPont Circle Metro stop – he had told me he knew the city.
“Give me a minute,” he told me as his right hand reached for his pocket. He flashed out his iPhone, tapped and demonstrated to me how the White House “was not very far” from where we were.
Last month I asked my colleague, who had just returned from covering the re-opening of Washington Monument, what was inside that towering obelisk.
“I don’t think there is much. Let’s see,” he mumbled as he grabbed my mouse to place the cursor in a Google search box.
“There you are!” he told me after opening a long, long-winded article on the historical structure built in honor of the first U.S. President George Washington.
Last week, another colleague shocked me when she logged onto Google Maps to search for the McPherson Square Metro stop, which is three blocks from The Washington Post office.
And that was how the 20-plus respondents in my informal survey responded to my question: They log on and use Google.
In my view, my queries were not only simple but also basic for anybody who has lived in the District for over a year.
But what worried me most was the fact that many could not give their phone numbers off the top of their heads, much less their friends’, brothers’ and sisters’.
I undertook the survey after observing that technology has become second nature to Americans: they eat, drink, breathe, sleep and dream buttons, screens and mice. Technology runs deep in their blood, and vice versa!
My findings were as exciting as they were shocking.
Internet is the one and only true answer to all questions, and people are ‘allowed’ to forget everything except carrying an IPhone, IPad, tablet, laptop— anything that can open a Web page.
Technology literally runs this super power and once it stops, almost everything grinds to a halt. In a recent survey on Americans’ dependency on technology by Forrester Research, 28 percent of the over 47,000 respondents said they could not live without the Internet.
“Singles under 40 and couples under 40 sans children are well-connected to the Web, noted the report, with 87 percent of them frequently online, both for personal and work reasons,” reports CNet News.
Technology is a product of the human brain and it helps us do things faster and more efficiently. But over-dependency is not healthy.
Stories of how some American children have failed to develop writing, speaking and socialization skills because of the fast-forward button are a hallmark of how technology can impair human growth and development. Other reportedly negative effects are obesity and a ballooning legion of non-thinkers.
Technology is only good when absorbed and used in moderation. Like fire, it is a good servant but a bad master. The Internet, mobile and other technologies will continue to help America grow— but people need to unplug and smell the coffee. Too much is harmful.
Nothing is more urgent, considering that Apple has just unveiled iOS8 and Google is on its way to drive all of us— including millions of technology ‘victims’— in driverless cars.