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Jan
24
2014
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Technological Invasion of a Vehicle

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Why is it that you can be playing Call of Duty online all day with a three-million kill count and zero deaths, and as soon as someone needs your attention or calls your name, you get stabbed in the face by a kindergartener from Sweden? Or why is it that every time I clean off the table and load the dishwasher, I never hear my wife when she is telling what to do and I end up welding sausage onto all of her nice china?

Why does it seem, in this day in age, that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do more than one thing at a time? Are we getting dumber? Or how about lazier? Well, I actually think I might just have the answer to this one.

Today we live in a world where we are surrounded by electronics, all of which require you doing only one thing at a time; even things that were once considered easy with a few steps, are now dumbed down to one.

Take the microwave, for example. it wasn’t that long ago when defrosting something in the microwave required you to know the weight and size of the item in question, and then decoding a conversion chart on the back of the door with some advanced mathematics. Now all you have to do is plop it in, press “Auto”, and you can have a steaming hot pile of preservatives within minutes.

To be honest, that idea scares me a little. So, to see if my theory has any merit - and to prove that I am not an idiot - I have been taking a break from all of the electronic wizardry in my life: I deleted the Twitter app off my phone, stopped watching television, and yes, even stopped shooting teenagers in the fun bits with my Playstation controller. And, to be completely honest, I am dumbfounded with the results of my technology fast. I can now do more than one thing at a time. And although it’s fine and dandy staying away from electronics while at home, there is one place these days that interacting with electronics is inevitable, and that is in the car.

The best thing about cars today is that they have never been safer. Some car manufacturers even boast that theirs can stand the weight of up to twenty more vehicles on its roof before caving in. It’s engineering at its best, and we really are better off for it. But what about all of the electronic aids? Are we better off for those? Well, no. Not really.

Car manufacturers tell us every year that they have worked out all the glitches in their system to ensure our safety. They also say that they have a better voice command program so we’ll never have to take our eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. But we all know it isn’t true.

How many times have you asked the nice lady in the screen to direct you to a hot cup of coffee, only to have her oblige by turning on the air conditioning, or some stupid pop music? How many times have you called somebody on Bluetooth while driving and they sounded like they were talking to you from the bottom of a well? If I were to guess, I would say millions. Can you imagine how adept we would be at multi-tasking if we still had to turn up the radio by hand and not have an accident at the same time?

Obviously I know I am being extreme, and yes technology is great when used as a tool, but we ruin it when we use it as a replacement for having to think for ourselves. And, if you really think about it, driving down the road while simultaneously trying to turn off your wipers (because you just asked for more heat) and kill the Justin Bieber song (because you swore at her for turning on the wipers) is a lot more distracting than someone asking you a question while playing Call of Duty. And can you even begin to imagine doing it all at 100kph? I can’t...not in the slightest.

CHRIS WELLS

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