Now that the United States is in a new political era, we’re all wondering what it means.
I, for one, am relieved and grateful to be here in the middle of the Pacific, five hours behind Washington, D.C. That means when stuff is happening there, I’m usually still in pajamas with unwashed face, uncombed hair and unbrushed teeth, and all that commotion seems far, far away.
But fortunately or unfortunately and thanks or no thanks to the internet, in Hawaii’s early and still-dark morning, I can choose to listen to and watch in real time what’s going on out there in Neverland.
Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad.
Sometimes funny, sometimes sad.
Sometimes inspiring, sometimes infuriating.
Either way, we can credit or blame — your choice — the technology for allowing us to become instantly aware of whatever is happening in that other world.
I can attest to the seduction of technology.
I remember ancient times when computers first arrived at the college where I was teaching. I objected to this intrusion, waving a No. 2 yellow pencil as my favorite tool.
But the dean insisted on computer literacy, cajoling us with tantalizing possibilities such as not having to hold meetings in person because, “Now we can meet on email!” I scoffed because I wanted him to look us in the eye when he cut the budget and eliminated positions.
I also recall the early days of desktop computers when we were afraid of hitting the wrong keys, worrying it might cause the hard drive to go berserk and send out ominous messages such as “Fatal Error! Fatal Error!” Fatal error?
Holding up my index finger, I snorted and said to colleagues, “See this finger?” And pointing to the power, “See that button? Watch this!” Then I hit that sucker with a flourish amid gasps as the screen went dark.
Fatal error my foot. It didn’t start a nuclear war. Get real.
Auwe, I eventually fell victim to the romance of technology as it slowly slithered its way into my daily routine. Years later, I noticed that after arriving on campus every morning and unlocking my office door, the first thing I did was power up my computer, even before turning on the light and hanging up my coat.
The inevitable proposal of online classes ignited the great debate whether cyber-learning could ever replace on-campus, in-person teaching. But as I watched students mesmerized by flashing screens, I knew that this brave new world was here to stay, forever changing the landscape of teaching and learning.
Some of us decided that we’d better figure out how to manage it before it managed us.
Even though I understand the lure of cyber-technology, I haven’t completely capitulated. Somewhat bemused by those devoted to tweets and postings, I am not one of them.
But hey, I still do email! Which my kids tell me is “oh so yesterday, Mom.” They try to shame me into texting, but I won’t because, OMG, I still use a flip phone!
So here we are, dealing with insistence, indulgence and addiction to social media. I guess the brilliant creative geniuses of the dazzling internet were not very forward-looking and led us like sheep to the mess we are in today. Yes, yes, First Amendment rights and all that, but imagine if there had been wiser management of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other apps of which I’m not even aware.
Before we even knew what was happening, social media took over and steamrolled us, forever changing the landscape.
I wonder where we go from here.
Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at [email protected] Her column appears every other Monday.