Missing that simpler life

Missing that simpler life
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Missing that simpler life

Technology hasn’t made life easier. It has made it more difficult. Technology and social media have encouraged extremism, anger, hate and emotion. Everyone is a columnist these days because now everyone can type and express an opinion on Twitter, Facebook and on the racist social media site Reddit. I’ve seen Forensic Files on TV enough so I guess I can get an FBI badge, a gun and do what the FBI does, too

By Ray Hanania

When I compare today with what we had 40 years ago, I find myself wishing we could go back in time to a period that was a better life.

Despite all the technology advances that we have, I think having a simpler life was more satisfying.

Probably the worst thing to happen to us over the pas four decades has been the advances in technology that created a new phenomena in which people are almost forced to express their views.

Writing commentary used to be the product of a career choice. Expressing an opinion once was the choice of people who made a decision to study issues, observe the world around us and then offer a consensus of opinion that reflected some reason.

But that’s not what we have today. Suddenly everyone is a columnist, not based on study but based on emotion and whatever advances their interests.

A display of the old Garfield Goose & Friends Children's Television series, which broadcast from 1955 until 1976, at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Aaron Hanania

A display of the old Garfield Goose & Friends Children’s Television series, which broadcast from 1955 until 1976, at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Aaron Hanania

I watch Forensic Files on TV a lot and I’ve learned much about crime. But does that mean you can give me an FBI badge and a gun and let me go out and fight crime? I’ve watched surgeons do heart surgery on TV and it looks so easy. Just cut open the chest and poke around with a few scalpels and laser burners — do I really need to even know the names of the medical instruments to be a good surgeon.

Technology has given us all a sense of educational empowerment, making us believe that we know enough to do what we see others do? I don’t need no education in order to be an expert. All I need is the technology.

So, we open a a Facebook account and we start ranting. Information comes at us so quickly that we don’t even pause to think. We just jump to conclusions. And we fill all the empty spaces of knowledge within endless amount of emotion. Emotion is all we need to step forward and start barking. All we need are a few people to agree with us and suddenly we become a lynch mob.

Suddenly, how other people feel doesn’t mean much anymore. They get what they deserve. Technology and the internet has made everyone a writer, a reporter and a commentator. Even the professional Op-Ed writers have lost it writing less about objective reporting and more about partisan opinion.

I always wanted to be a doctor, like many of my cousins and relatives but I chose journalism as a career spending a lot of time learning and honing my skills of discernment. Opinion on writing isn’t really far from journalism.it’s a part of journalism that is supposed to come from years of experience and training writing facts as a reporter. You cover a topic as a reporter for years and then use that base to advance to opinion commentary. My field is politics but I’ve found that the world has become all about politics. Politics today isn’t the politics of yesterday.

Anyone with an internet account can write a column and 3xpress an opinion, I guess, just like anyone who watches Forensic Files regularly on TV will learn enough about crime to become an investigator.

But I look at a discipline and how technology has changed it. The injection of emotion is probably the second greatest detriment to the impact of technology. Mix the two and suddenly we have an explosive and destructive environment waiting to cause not understanding, but more conflict and even more tension.

People might think what’s wrong with everyone expressing forceful opinions and clashing in disagreement. Isn’t that what an open society is supposed to be able to allow?

The logic is compelling. If we were all doctors, there wouldn’t be sickness or death from illnesses. If we were all FBI agents and forensic investigators, there wouldn’t be any crime. If we were all opinion columnists, we would all agree and see the same light.

It’s just the opposite, I guess. Today, we have an angrier world we’re it’s easier to be divisive and combative than it is to be in agreement or accommodating. We don’t have to be in agreement 100 percent to get along, do we? The idea of 100 percent is extremist not idealistic, maybe even fanatic. Is utopia based on everyone agreeing? The perfect world where we all think alike? Of course not.

The fact is having differences of opinion should be a good thing. Being able to accept different opinions is what makes a society reach the pinnacle of intelligence, not the simplistic technologies that have turned our computers and cell phones into weapons, bludgeons and a means of assault.

Maybe what we need is to step back. Count to 10. Think about what we are about to say and think. The greatest threat to our “advanced” society is the combining of emotion, technology and speed, the antibodies to common sense.

Put the cell phones and computers down for a moment. Look around the dinner table, the CTA bus, the office, the park, and the neighborhood. Spend as much time really looking at the people around you and appreciate them.

And when something gets under your skin, count to 10. In most cases, by the time you reach 8 you will realize it just isn’t worth elevating your angst.

The country is too divided. The hatred against President Donald Trump is way beyond reason, President Trump’s quick action to shoot from the hip lacks thoughtful analysis. Everyone needs to stop, unless of course, we don’t really care too much about our country.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year, too.

Ray Hanania

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