When I think of how today’s society relies on technology, I shudder. My mind floods with the what-if-consequences of technological failure. How would we communicate, conduct business, build things, get tested and receive medical results and stay nationalistically safe in a world of horrifying threats?
How would we survive without our computers, tablets, Kindles, cell phones and those fancy-schmancy watches that actually tell time too? Today’s youth has been raised on the ease of communication, and social networking, and mammoth amounts of information available in seconds. We’re just now learning the consequences, both pro and con, regarding social media and its misinformation. When it’s good, it’s really, really good and when it’s bad, it’s like your best friend, told her best friend, you stole a pack of your mother’s cigarettes, and an hour later you’re trending as the youngest felon incarcerated in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
This whole good and bad media thing got me to thinking, what if we had all this technological, Facebook, Twitter and whatever communication when I was a teenager. That was the ‘60s, the hippie generation, a time when we rose up against the system, made a lot of noise, and demonstrated for the kind of change, which at the time, made about as much sense as banging our heads against the Berlin Wall. Change did happen and then somewhere along the line we became the establishment. How proud are we of that?
But, what if in 1963, when the March on Washington was being organized, we had Facebook. When 200,000 showed up then, it was a very big deal. With Facebook, the amount of demonstrators would have emptied out half the states east of the Mississippi and the rest of the country would have been circling over Reagan airport, when it was Washington National and Reagan was "The Gipper."
Think of how Facebook would have impacted Woodstock, when 400,000 hippies, listened to music, danced in the mud and got high on Max’s 600 acre dairy farm on a rainy weekend in ‘69. And that was by word of mouth. With social media, it would have been over a million.
The availability of cell phone videos is just beginning to affect how we witness and broadcast events as innocuous as cute kittens stuck up a tree or as serious as Robert Burns’ “Man’s inhumanity to man.” Vietnam brought the first images of war to our TVs during dinner and dessert. I know now, what it would have looked like then, if technology had been available to the kids who didn’t flee to Canada. Maybe the war would have ended sooner and there’d be less than 58,000 names on the wall in Washington.
Imagine cell phone videos of Birmingham in ‘63, Selma in ‘65, or Kent State in 1970. When I think of what we would have seen on that searing day in Dallas, November 1963 my mind wretches. The Zapruder film was horrific enough.
To chronicle history is a good thing, I guess. To become a part of something greater than ourselves, via a device allowing us inside the lives of those we admire, is quite admirable.
I would have worn out You Tube after The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan’s really big show in ’64 and I would have followed the Twitter account of the Beach Boys after they appeared in ‘65. Heck I probably would have followed Ed Sullivan on Facebook.
We conducted business, went to school, graduated from school, got jobs, married and had kids with only a princess phone, a portable radio and three channels on TV. We didn’t need all that technological stuff then but now, it’s as necessary as pen, paper and a handshake.
Carolynn’s Princess phone is broken. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org