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Opinion

Thirst for technology may leave us parched

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April 23, 2008

Last week, the always-hilarious Comedy Central cartoon “South Park” aired an episode called “Over Logging.”

In the episode, the entire town of South Park wakes up to find it no longer has any Internet access. As you can imagine, the city quickly disintegrates into shambles and the citizens rapidly morph into disgraceful and desperate refugees of an Internet-less world.

Stan’s dad Ralph takes his family “. . . out Californeee way to see if they got some Internet.” Slowly, the nation’s tech refugees descend upon the coastal regions and quickly suck up whatever little Internet is left.

The episode is a stinging reminder of how overly-reliant we’ve become on technology and the Web in the last couple decades.

Though “South Park” treats it as a joke, our relationship with technology has put us in a vulnerable position to become refugees ourselves if our own internet ever “dries up.”

Think about it. When is the last time you drove somewhere new without the help of MapQuest and a cell phone? I personally can’t even make it to the end of my street without double-checking my car’s GPS navigation system.

When I’m visiting a friend in a new place, I’m on the cell phone every .271 seconds making sure I didn’t miss the turn.

Without this constant support from technology, how am I supposed to find anything at all? I’ve lived with MapQuest for so long, my own crippled and atrophied innate sense of direction even plays victim in this tragedy of technological tyranny.

If this trend continues, our children won’t be able to make it to their own bedrooms without whipping out their iPhone 2s. For shame!

Think about all the obnoxious, character-building crap our parents had to do in those dark and hazy years before the advent of the Web. They even had to socialize in real life.

Now we can do so much on the Web automatically and instantly—everything from banking to college registration to shopping to applying for jobs and a million things more.

Those things used to be time-consuming, high involved processes. Give us a half hour now and we’ll do it all while sitting down—and we don’t even have to change our underwear or see another fellow human being.

It’s so easy I can’t help but feel sorry for people in the past. Think of the pain—I mean, our poor folks had to order out of catalogs, whatever those are. Terrifying.

We’ve got to face it: ours is a culture stuffed with tech-starved wieners suckled on the dangerous conveniences of the modern world.

I love the Internet as much as the next American—in fact, I think it’s sweet—but I’m afraid that if the Web or the technologies comprising it ever fail on a massive scale, us techno-babies will be so struck with confusion, helplessness and mild anarchy that our tech-less nation will shrivel up into a giant, flaccid husk of its former great self.

And that will be almost as funny as “South Park.”

Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.