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'Happy Unplug from Technology Day!'
Feb. 22, 2016
by Mark Ollig

Could this be the next holiday card we’ll be sending to our friends and loved ones?

Is it even possible for us to be separated from our Internet, social media, smartphones, and high-tech gadgets for a single day?

Maybe we are spending too many of our waking (and waking up) hours interacting with a display screen.

Case in point: I woke up at 4 a.m. last Wednesday, and instinctively reached for my Android phone, opened a Microsoft Word file (today’s column), and began editing it.

Indeed, I am very dedicated to my column; of course, while I was up, I robotic-like checked my Facebook and Twitter.

I also felt obligated to glance at my new emails.

No, I’m not addicted to online social media . . . much.

In addition to the large amount of time spent on social media, Instagram, Netflix, and others, we’re reading and sending (with great regularity) text messages from our smartphones.

I’m doing more typing now than I did during high school typing class.

Indeed, we boomers can easily recall those days of yore.

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” I imagine this sentence was typed thousands of times on Smith-Corona typewriters inside many typing classrooms.

The attraction to online social media first began for me when I started a local dialup computer Bulletin Board Service (BBS), in the late 1980s.

Ah yes, I nostalgically recall the days before the World Wide Web, when yours truly was the happy system operator of a small, local hobbyist BBS called: WBBS OnLine!

Back then, computer enthusiasts were catching the BBS “bug.”

They were getting online by dialing a local telephone number, and virtually connecting with others within a community BBS.

Those were the days.

However, I need to digress back to today’s topic.

Could we actually take a single day to “unplug” from technology, and all our Internet and online social media?

I do believe it’s good for us to take occasional breaks from social media, and just relax our over-stimulated brains.

Many of us remember how we lived before boarding this swift-moving boat carrying us over huge waves of unremittingly evolving technologies, and incessantly fast-paced social media.

Have we voluntarily or unconsciously, become an active participant in today’s Internet social media, along with our use of; and yes, our obsession with; technologically advanced smartdevices?

There are those of us who remember the simpler technology we used before the BBS’s, the Internet, the Web, the desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, and our smartphones.

I reminisce being a 4-year-old, and picking up the heavy handset from the rotary-dial desk phone sitting on the end table in the family living room.

I placed the handset’s receiver to my ear, and after hearing the “buzzing dial tone,” I carefully dialed “0.”

“Operator . . . how can I help direct your call?” the courteous voice on the telephone asked.

I very politely asked if she could connect my telephone to my grandma’s telephone, because I didn’t know her number.

As a youngster growing up in the late 1960s, another technology I enjoyed using were walkie-talkies.

By the mid-70s, you would have seen yours truly driving around town in a shiny green metallic Plymouth Duster, with a white vinyl top.

You would have also noticed a dangling CB (citizens band) whip antenna extending from the trunk.

CB radios were all the rage back then; everybody was getting them, and coming up with their own unique alias CB handle, or username.

It was fun chatting with other CB’ers; “Breaker breaker one-niner, this here is The Green Hornet. I’m reading you five by five . . . as in wall-to-wall and treetop tall . . . I’ll be ten-ten on the side.”

Yes, my CB handle was The Green Hornet, and my first 23-channel CB radio was a Channel Master.

When the FCC allocated 40 channels for CB radio in 1977, I installed a Midland Cobra CB radio in my car.

Quite a few people around the area where I lived had CB radio base stations in their homes.

CB’ing was as popular then, as using smartphones are today – I can see the millennials rolling their eyes.

I knew of people without a CB radio in their car, installing a “dummy” CB antenna just so it could have that cool “CB look.”

Let’s end this melancholy revisiting of the CB radio craze with; “10-7 to you; we be gone, bye bye.”

Popular then, and still today, are the licensed amateur radio or “ham” radio operators who communicate using voice and Morse code.

Hams connect with people across the country, around the world, and sometimes even with a crew member of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.

One of my teachers in high school, who taught us electronics, had a working ham radio set up in the corner of the classroom.

We did a lot of “CQing” over it.

So, will we be seeing a new Hallmark card wishing the recipient a “Happy Unplug from Technology Day!” anytime soon?

I don’t think so.

Technology, the Internet, social media networks, smartdevices, and smartphones are now woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

However, as I wrote in 2009; “Being human, I sometimes reach a point where I need a break from the online world. One need not feel guilty. There is no harm here and nothing to feel bad about.”

Follow my rants and ramblings on Twitter at: @bitsandbytes.


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