A knock on computers

I’m organizing a petition to do away with home computers and cell phones. My reasoning is simple if unoriginal: Our parents and everyone in history before them did quite nicely coping with business and personal matters without such devices.

And who among us hasn’t been annoyed when dining out with at least one person at the table exchanging text messages? It’s rude, it’s galling, and someone needs to put an end to it. And so it is that I’ve incorporated “Non-users Unite Today.”

I offer two convincing examples of why you should also be a N.U.T. to avoid a life dictated by gadgetry. The first occurred years ago when I worked at a gerbil farm. At day’s end I decided to hit the men’s room prior to joining the usual rush-hour traffic. As I entered a stall and locked the door, the person in the next stall spoke up.

“Hey, how you been lately?” he asked.

I replied that I’m doing well, and he then asked, “Been working hard lately?”

“Um, no more than usual,” I stammered, to which he said, “Hey, let’s get together for a drink, sweetie.”

At this point I’d heard enough and departed the stall. But I took longer than usual to wash up in order to ID this dubious co-worker. Well, out he came – talking on a cell phone to someone else.

But even that pales in comparison to what happened to a lifelong friend who finally succumbed to 20 years of nagging from his family and purchased a computer. After hours of going through the set up and learning some keyboard commands, he called and gave me the news.

“The first thing I’m going to do is buy something online for my new house,” he beamed. Being a devout Republican, he mentioned ordering a brass elephant to mount on the front door to use in place of a doorbell.

Even with my limited knowledge of computers, I knew enough to suggest that he do an Internet search for such a product to compare features and prices. To this he agreed, but minutes later the phone rang and my eardrum nearly burst from all the gasping and spewing.

“I put a hammer to that stupid computer and threw it in the trash,” he screamed. “I’m done with it.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Well, I typed ‘elephant knockers’ in the search bar and you wouldn’t believe what came up on the screen.”

And there you have it, proof positive of how our lives have become hostage to computers, cell phones and such. Let’s leave Tweeting to canaries, Googling to gurgling babies and help those with hashtags to get off drugs. And furthermore … uh, sorry, I’ll have to finish this later. I just got a text from the wife that her car broke down.

— Doug Kelly, a resident of Clearwater, is a book author and freelance writer who’s worked on the editorial staffs of state and national magazines. He’s a member of several media organizations as well as the Society of American Travel Writers.

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