How many monkeys does it take to replace a light bulb? The answer is none; monkeys don’t use light bulbs.

So, how many advanced apes (us) does it take? It’s complicated. A philosopher would want to know why we need to change the light bulb. An engineer might require days of drawing a schematic and writing an operation manual. A politician would start arguing why it’s best to twist the bulb to the left or to the right. A pampered chef would want to make sure he gets credit first and a farmer might just go fetch his old kerosene lantern. For the rest of us, changing a light bulb has become a very complex issue. Is it still legal to use the old incandescent bulbs like Edison invented 140 years ago? Don’t fluorescent lamps contain dangerous mercury? And are the expensive LEDs (light emitting diodes) really worth their price? Maybe monkeys are better off than us.

Rollie Atkinson Column Photo

Rollie Atkinson

All our modern conveniences make us ask, “What hasn’t all this new-fangled technology screwed up?” We want everything to be easy and instantly available, but at what price? Yes, modern science and technology have conquered diseases and lengthened our lives. Our choices for entertainment now seem limitless. We can click our thumb and get a new wardrobe, a Lyft ride, a pizza (or a pizza oven), a movie, a new friend or an old, forgotten memory. But the more we click, the more we get trapped by our own technology. We know about getting our privacy invaded but we may not be so aware about how our mood changes. We get angrier more often. We get depressed and don’t know why. We have hundreds of Facebook friends but we feel lonely a lot.

It’s all about our technology. We’re ruining good conversation. Sit at a dinner table and watch everybody stare at his or her smart phone. Newspapers are dying because too many people want their news to be free and instant. They don’t want to have to think too hard about real facts. Good music is ruined, maybe forever. How could a Beethoven symphony really be stirring when listened to as a computer-compressed digital file with ear buds? Modern musicians keep writing popular songs and recording them, but Spotify, Apple and Pandora pay them in pennies (if at all) for their talent.

Technology is killing dating. People match up using computer algorithms or phony online profiles. Whatever happened to slow dancing, real moonlight and innocent puppy love? Computers can’t make that happen.

The real “collusion” that got President Donald Trump elected was the runaway forces of technology, that made Wikileaks and the Russian cyber troll farms possible. How do we patch up our wounded democracy without requiring all social media to adopt the same code of ethics of truth and honesty used by scientists, journalists and enlightened institutions?

We knew the era of unending video replays had killed the excitement of watching NFL football but we never thought it would infect such sports shrines as the Kentucky Derby. For the first time in 154 years, the winning horse and jockey were disqualified this year for bumping another horse. Why is this technology’s fault? Because horses bump each other all the time in fast races but now we have the technology to do super slow-speed replays from a half dozen angles to document a razor-edge infraction.

Maybe it’s not as bad as we make it sound. At least we can fast-forward through all those TV commercials. Look how easy it is to spend money. We don’t have to leave our couch to have a big argument about who should be our next president. Facebook finds our long lost high school sweetheart for us even when it’s embarrassing or better left locked in the past. Now, what we really want is better technology to remove all our tattoos when clean skin fashion comes back. It will, won’t it?

 

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