"Alien Nation"


I own a Mac, I Phone and Kindle. I also have a Facebook account and I tweet regularly into the vastness of the cyber universe. I even download music now in lieu of the traditional CD purchase. But I do all of this, and some other things as well, with more than a little angst and trepidation, for I have always fancied myself a traditionalist, one steeped in the old fashioned way of doing things. But alas, I suppose I have no choice but to evolve with the emerging culture - we all know what happened to the dinosaurs - but despite my reluctant capitulation and my understanding of all the advantages these aforementioned technological advances afford, I am remain deeply troubled.

Who would have ever imagined that the technology which was created in order to enhance the quality of our daily lives would have assumed such an insidious life of its own, one which threatens to eradicate those of us who have been thoroughly seduced by the promise of expediency and convenience. As modern technology continues to burgeon beyond anyone's comprehension (remember when the cartoon “The Jetsons” was just a cartoon?) we all become a little less human, transformed from sensitive, amiable beings into faceless automatons incapable of intimate communication.

Who have we become?

Many of us traditionalists (there are still a few of us left!) lament the fact that in today's world, there seems to be a glaring absence of this intimacy - a desensitization that has altered the face of humanity. Very true. What remains an enigma, however, is why we do not recognize the source of our collective despair and consternation - why we don't rail against the reason why we have mutated into creatures who bear little or no resemblance to our parents and grandparents.

What have we become?

It is really quite simple; we have fallen victim to our alienation - or perhaps what is better expressed as our "alien nation."

It is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when the fruits of our technology turned against us. When did this disassociation with others of our species become the norm? Somewhere between the advent of the answering machine and the inception of the internet, we lost our way. We have become slaves to our technology. This became painfully evident once again during Hurricane Sandy, when we were forced to revert back to our older, more traditional ways.

Many struggled because they have forgotten how to just be. And what it means to exist without technology.

Evidence you say? We send e-mails instead of letters, chat on-line or via text message instead of in person or on the telephone, and perform our monetary transactions via direct deposit or ATM. We engage in inane encounters with automated menus, do our Christmas shopping from a computer, and converse on cell phones while standing in line at the grocery store. True, all of these innovations make life faster and easier; but they are also impersonal and unnatural. In trying to create perfection, we have produced disaster.

Does the name Victor Frankenstein ring any bells?

In order to arrest the tide of this technological metamorphosis, if indeed it is not too late, we must all make a concerted effort to embrace our humanity and reclaim our quality of life.

Henry David Thoreau had the right idea - “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”

Resurrect the paper and pen and write a note to someone you love. I cannot remember the last time I received a handwritten letter from a friend. Correspondence of this nature is priceless, for it is imbued with sentiment; words are much more poignant when crafted by hand. Handwriting is like a fingerprint; it is unique and emblematic of the writer’s essence. I still have dozens of letters from the WWII veterans on which my first novel ECHOES FROM THE INFANTRY was based. They are stored away with all of my most valued possessions. But I digress…

If pen and paper are not your style, next time you need to withdraw money from your checking account visit your financial institution during regular business hours and treat yourself to an impromptu exchange with the bank teller. It might seem strange at first but you’ll feel much better. Some of the best conversations are those which are unexpected.

And if you really want to immerse yourself in the human condition, and exorcise those technological demons, rebuke the X-Box and abandon virtual reality for the moment; meet a real person for coffee or dinner. Nothing combats our alien nation like the eye contact that occurs during a personal exchange between two people. You might want to leave any hand held electronic devices at home.

Of course I blush as I write, recognizing the inherent paradox here; you would not be reading this without the advent of the blog.


I guess I’m mired in the chasm between two worlds.

I am indeed happy to share my thoughts, but I cannot help but think that they would be better expressed in person.
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Published on December 10, 2012 14:20
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message 1: by Claire (new)

Claire Hall Very thoughtful...and I agree with the sentiments!

message 2: by Frank (new)

Frank Nappi Thanks Bill!

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