And I thought I was the only one who was lonely, a widowed truck driver out on the open road, but it seems much of society is even with people all around them. I mean people are constantly texting each other, sometimes when the person is in the other room — my own daughter and her daughter have done this, but they are not alone (no play on words intended), and I’ve heard others do this too. And we all have seen people sitting with each other at a dinner table having their own private texting sessions with people elsewhere.
Now Facebook has bought out an outfit that makes some kind of head gear (it looks super clumsy and dorky in the photo I saw) that allows people to have some kind of virtual reality get-togethers with folks elsewhere. The story I read did not give details, and I was in no mood to know too much about it anyway. I think I got the creeps some time ago when I read that the technology already exists to where you wear a certain type of glasses that will instantly tell you who you are talking with and their background (and can we or will be shortly be able to read their mind, that will be the end of the human race or at least any kind of meaningful relationships. I mean as much as we’d like to know what someone is thinking, it may sometimes be better if we do not).
I have a true love, hate relationship with technology. On the one hand I lament that it at first promised great things for my former occupation as a newspaper reporter and then all but did away with traditional paper newspapers. On the other hand I love having the electronic or web version of the New York Times at my finger tips wherever I go and with the latest updated stories (and of course all the other sites). I appreciate my Kindle with its e-reader and even its feature that allows me to watch movies. And as a truck driver I can’t imagine what I did before the cell phone, not only is it handy, but one could not even do the job without one these days, and it is extremely difficult to figure out how we did without them. I began my truck driving just before cell phones took over. I still recall making calls from the telephones that were at the driver booths in the restaurants at the truck stops. I don’t know what we did when we broke down. Since cell phones quickly took over my breakdowns have meant I make a cell call for help. I did have to flag down another trucker once when my cell did not get coverage in a particular area. Fortunately the other driver’s phone did — before he stopped many trucks just whizzed by (who has time?).
So yeah, it’s great to have the latest news and to have books and movies at my fingertips and to have help on the way when I am stranded on the road (and to be able to do this blog), and I’m all for breakthroughs in medicine so we can all live a longer and healthier life, but at some point I wonder, don’t we have enough?
And why are we so much after being all by ourselves in virtual reality? Has technology dehumanized us?
I think the answer is: not yet, but it will.
Oh, and back to the trucking culture. When I began this phase of my life, we all used to eat at the truck stop restaurants and hang out, phones on the tables, and make calls to our dispatchers. And of course truckers swapped stories. You should see some of those restaurants these days. Many of them are deserted. Many have closed down. They have been replaced by fast food outlets. What with cell phones and other technology speeding up the dispatching of trucks and creating tighter delivery schedules — and at the dame time new “safety” rules make truckers cut corners in their time to get things done in a narrower window — no one has time. In addition, many truckers have their own refrigerators and microwaves in their trucks.
It’s a faster world. It’s a lonelier world.