The Norman Transcript

November 30, 2013

Interaction and gadgets


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Gadgets and various inventions can make life easier particularly when it comes to making life a little easier.

For example, when Prometheus gave mankind the gift of fire, life became warmer and brighter.

Of course, Zeus was unhappy, which seemed to be a constant malady of his, because ruling the other gods and keeping them in line was like herding cats. Someone always broke one rule or another, and it usually involved humans.

However, if you prefer the less elegant version, then somehow one of those cave dwellers with a sloping forehead stumbled upon the process of making fire. You have to wonder how often he had to rediscover the gift, because if he did not tend the fire, it went out.

Later, someone must have accidentally dropped a piece of meat into the fire, and by the time he managed to get it out, the meat was cooked.

From cold, dark caves and raw meat, man or what passed for man at the time suddenly had indoor heat, light and haute cuisine. They gathered around the fire and enjoyed family grunting time together.

We have come a long way from those thrilling days of yesteryear when a stroll outside the cave could result in bringing home a lion, tiger or bear for dinner or becoming the meal for one of those critters.

Today, gathering together for a meal is a holiday occasion. The rest of the time, we are isolated bubble-dwellers. There is no need to forage for food when you can dash into a supersized grocery store (or hire someone to do it) and come out with frozen, more or less ready-to-eat meals or some other easy-to-prepare morsels that require a microwave and pushing a few buttons.

Ding. Dinner is ready.

We grab the food and head back to the television or the computer to play or work. No downtime for the wicked and weary multi-taskers we have become.

Truth be told, there is little or no need to interact directly with people, not even at work. Not with voicemail, email, texting and sundry other ways to avoid getting up from your chair and walking a few feet to someone’s desk.

The stories of disconnected humans who “connect” to the entire world through a myriad of social media outlets abound.

However, just because they recount in painful detail everything they do in the course of a day, they are only connecting in a superficial way. They may not even realize that the things they post so religiously may qualify for a few TMI awards.

What about physically going to a party or out dancing? You would think human interaction takes place there; how could it not? Do the attendees talk to each other or talk at each other? When they talk do they maintain eye contact, or do they continuously scan the room with only half their brains present in the conversation?

When they dance, do they hold each other in a sweet embrace? Or does each person occupy his or her own space and move in synch with the music. Unless you are engaged in some toasty dancing, there is little touching between people dancing.

Countless studies have proven that the touch of another human being is vital to our existence and mental health.

As Christmas and other holidays approach, we are bombarded by images of close families and loved ones enjoying their time together. How does a disassociated person fit what is portrayed into his or her separate, bubble-dwelling life?

Is it any wonder that depression is on the rise during the holidays?

In a more aware universe, we could consider emulating the times when people huddled together in caves, gathered around campfires and interacted with one another without relying on wonderful and impersonal gadgets that suck our souls dry.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her suspense novels “The Dionysus Connection” and “The Marathon Man” are available on Amazon. Visit elizabethcowan.com.

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