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Author: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  March 16, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

It's all a bit too fast.

I take a lot of ribbing for being a bit behind the times in the information age. You see, a lot of the new and useful tools we have seem to have a bit of a down side.

Mind you, I’m not a total Neanderthal. I have a computer, roam the Internet, and use e-mail.

There are problems here though. Computers are subject to a raft of viruses. The Internet has a raft of questionable sites, conspiracy theorists, scams, fools and what have you. Too, I learned early on the down side of e-mails. They can be forwarded. This can, of course, make the egg on your face a lot tougher to remove when - let’s say - everyone from the security guard to the CEO of your company has had a chance to read whatever it was you wish you’d never written.

On another “information” front, I do not now nor will I ever own a cell phone. I consider them an inconvenience at best and something spawned by Beelzebub at worst.

My friends at work consider me to be somewhat beyond the pale in this matter - especially when I’m out running an errand and they think of something I could pick up if only they could reach me.

Upon being confronted with this, I simply ask them if they ever wish they could get away from their desks for an hour or two - while on business, mind you - and not be bothered by all that’s going on at work for that period of time. In short, do they ever wish they could just take a breather during the day while still accomplishing something for the company?

As for personal use, I’ve made it through almost 60 years without needing to have a phone ringing in my pocket while in a library, at a movie, in a restaurant, attending church, or while simply talking with another human being whose company I am enjoying at the moment.

Having staked out that lonely position, you can pretty much bet the ranch on the fact that I’m never going to be comfortable with the video capability now built into cell phones.

It’s tough enough knowing that Big Brother watches our every move in stores, records our every transaction at an ATM, films us as we roll through a light that’s about to change, or catches our comings and goings at airports. These, however, are the things we’ve resigned ourselves to in a society that’s become ever more complicated, less private, and far more scary than it was just a few years back.

With cell phone cameras, though, it gets a lot worse. Things that should never be broadcast often find their onto the Internet simply because someone had a camera and happened to be thinking “Well, why the heck not?”

From the ordinarily embarrassing to the completely invasive, just about anything can now find its way to the other side of the world and into every nook and cranny along the way.

It’s bad enough when someone you don’t know is taking shots of you doing something and posting it on You Tube. I won’t even go into what some people post about themselves. Let’s just say, though, that I guarantee that 99 and 99/100 percent of the world doesn’t know you or anything about you, but they may have just seen you do something that seems uncaring, stupid, dangerous, immoral, or what have you.

Was it?

Ask any police officer about statements taken from eye witnesses to any event. I’ve been told that there are times when officers wonder whether these witnesses are all talking about the same incident

Still, with videos and the Internet, the same world that just “saw” you do something is likely to make an instantaneous judgment regarding you and, with all of the other electronic tools at hand, you - and your family - can be found almost immediately.

We had an example of this recently with the video of the soldier apparently tossing a live puppy off of a cliff.

Is that what really happened? Maybe.

If it was, should there be consequences? You bet there should be.

Should we wait until all of the facts are in before we decide what to think? Yes.

Did many do this? No.

And now a local family is going through more grief than any of us can imagine.

Kind of makes you wonder if we’re really ready for all of the “information” being brought our way by all of these useful gadgets.

I believe that I can find one family that thinks that maybe we’re not.

And, you know what? I agree with them.

Larry Simoneaux

Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Copyright © 2008 by Larry Simoneaux
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