2011-06-02 / Sam Bari

I love my ‘puter and my ‘puter loves me

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

The “Terminator” movie franchise starring the currently unpopular Ahnold appears to have been more prophetic than the creators intended. The computers are indeed taking over, but not by way of a violent revolution.

They are passively winning our hearts. The need for human companionship on an emotional and intellectual level is fading into obsolescence. The advent of the android could make that concept a reality.

Although a functioning android is still an imagining of science fiction, so was today’s high tech personal computer less than 50 years ago.

Think about it. Your personal computer is like having an erudite friend who is never in a bad mood, offensive, or too busy to spend time with you. Whenever you feel like asking a question, as long as you’re specific, you’ll get the answer you’re seeking. It will never make you feel stupid, and it never has to get back to you. Instant gratification is at your fingertips.

When you are on the road and manage to get lost, your GPS is a touch screen away. On your cell phone or on your dashboard, in just a few seconds a GPS unit can tell you where you are and how to get where you want to go. It can, and usually does, employ a pleasant voice to give you directions. It is another product of computer magic.

If you want to play games, do research on any subject, go shopping, or even get a date with another human, your computer will do your bidding. Unlike a human companion, whenever you tire of your computer’s company, you can just turn it off and it will never complain.

Furthermore, it doesn’t care if you’re a totally out-of-shape couch potato. If you want to do something to improve your physicality, you can get assistance from programs designed to help you do everything from losing weight to reshaping your body – all through your computer. What’s not to like?

The many social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer computer users the opportunity to network with others of the same mindset. You can be an active member of the virtual community in the safe confines of your home where you can communicate with people from all over the globe without the risk of face-to-face exposure.

However, if you want to meet someone face to face without actual physical confrontation, you can do that too, by using a webcam. Most computers come with one built in.

You can see and hear the person you’re communicating with and they can see you. The difference is, when the conversation takes an uncomfortable turn, or if you don’t like what you see, a click of a mouse makes the other person go away. A few more clicks, and that person can be blocked from sending you an IM, e-mail, or from communicating with your computer in any way. Cool, huh?

Well, maybe not. The downside of the virtual world has been evident for some time. It began with business. Shopping centers and malls are all but disappearing.

More people are shopping on the Internet where they can sit at home in their pajamas and compare prices in the middle of the night. Then they can make their purchases and have everything from their groceries to Christmas presents delivered to their doorsteps. Other than the groceries, they can have nearly everything else delivered to any doorstep on the planet.

I admit I am guilty. For the past few years, I have not stepped into a single store to do my Christmas shopping or to buy gifts of any kind. I have purchased concert tickets, books, toys, movies and household furnishings via the Internet. Lines, clerks in foul moods, out-of-stock items, bad weather and parking hassles have all been eliminated.

On the social side of the situation, young people no longer go on dates. They hook up when they need any degree of physical contact. If they want to talk, they text each other, converse on cell phones, or send IMs and emails. Long-distance marriages are becoming common. Married couples live and work in different cities, and get together on weekends for physical relations.

When the androids become a reality, our tribal social system will change dramatically. If the computers have their way, we could be totally dependent on technology if we want to exist in a system we can’t understand.

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