JUST A MAN OUT OF TIME
By Kurt J. Kolka
(Originally Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2015)
The more time goes on and things change, the more I feel like a man out of time.
I have some friends who are keen in getting the latest electronic gadget, whatever that may be, to keep up with all their friends and family. Or maybe even to get ahead of them. I’m not sure.
Others I know avoid technology like the plague. They are fine without the latest smart phone or app or gadget. They’d rather call someone up on their land line or send a letter by snail mail.
As for me, I am stuck in the middle.
There is a huge part of me which loves the past, like the latter group. I love walking through old ghost towns, like nearby Deward, and looking at the remnants of a time long ago, yet only a couple generations back for me. I had ancestors who worked there. So, as I walk around the desolate area now, I wonder how much of what I see was seen by my ancestors (but in a better condition). Old foundations and metallic pieces link me to them, their time period and also the past of Otsego and Crawford counties, where I have spent the majority of my life.
People can have their grand resorts with all the latest technology. Vacations should take you away from what the world requires. Cell phones only seem to handcuff people to their work.
I’d rather win a free ride on an old steam engine than a free smart phone and its collection of various apps. Even brief recreational train rides like Huckleberry Railroad near Flint provide a peace no smart phone can have enough bars for.
As a reader, I still prefer a physical book to a virtual one read on a tablet. I enjoy the feel of the pages old books have and the fresh smell new books have when you open them up. Recently, I purchased an old hardback copy of “Moby Dick” with illustrations by Rockwell Kent for my main winter read. I love to leaf through it and see what cool illustrations I’ll be enjoying as the winter progresses. You simply can’t
leaf through a book on a tablet.
Most of my favorite reads are classic literature or mysteries. And most of my mysteries are also classics (Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). To read a story taking place in the early 1900s or before requires actual paper and ink to take you into their world. Reading Melville on a tablet wouldn’t work. It is like that plastic screen creates an added barrier between me and the writer. It feels more like watching a movie than sharing the intimacy of a character’s journal, which a bound volume provides.
Likewise, I prefer print editions of newspapers. There is something more relaxing about sitting in a recliner and fingering through the pages than sitting at a computer desk staring into a screen.
However, this is one area where I’ve had to give in to technology. My favorite part of the newspaper has always been the comics section. But as newspapers have struggled in recent years, many of my favorite comics have cut in area papers. As a result, the only place to read them is online at sites like GoComics.com and ComicsKingdom.com. Thus, to keep up with some of my longtime favorites like “The Phantom,” “Judge Parker,” “Dick Tracy,” “Gasoline Alley” and others, I must use the technology that is available. And I am thankful to be able to do so.
I have also found the Internet useful when doing research. It is, among other things, the new encyclopedia. (Do kids today even know what encyclopedias are? Or were?) Whether researching information for a story I am writing or researching a Bible verse for study, the Internet can be fast and efficient. The only challenge can be making sure the site you are using is trustworthy.
The other benefit I have been finding in technology, again the Internet, is the social media site, Facebook. I have found so many friends I had lost track of over the years. These include old friends from both public school and college, as well as those who moved away. Some I lost track of decades ago. And typing a message is so much quicker than letter writing.
While working on my anti-bullying campaign, it was the Internet that provided me with information on where celebrities were appearing in places like Chicago and Indianapolis. We had The Cardinal’s photo taken with many celebrities to promote the anti-bullying cause. I would have never known such events were going on if it weren’t for the Internet linking me with the world.
And I have no doubt medical technology has saved my life. About eight years ago, some of that technology caught a life-threatening problem allowing doctors to go in and fix it. A few months afterward, laparoscopic technology helped with further repairs without the use of surgery. Amazing.
So, somehow, I’ve become a person who neither ignores the past nor avoids where we are heading as a society. I try to a keep a foot in both worlds and hope I don’t topple over, landing on my “keester” and break my tablet. Happy New Year, everyone!