2002/09/23
 
07:54

A Brush with the Future

While waiting for people to arrive at a recent blogger get-together, I noticed a fellow with an intriguing assortment of devices on his belt. He had a small cell phone, a pager, an MP3 player and something else I didn't recognize. They were all nicely colour-coordinated in silver-gray. I thought this looked pretty nifty. In fact, I envied him somewhat, because he had something similar to what I've always secretly craved: Batman's utility belt! (I am, of course, referring to the real Batman from the 1960's series.)

I suppose the fellow also had a Palm Pilot in his shirt pocket. I also suspect that his secret desire is to be one of the Borg.

It's hard not to be seduced by the technological fetish. Though it sometimes seems futile, I try to resist. Take telephones, for example. I didn't get touch-tone until 2001, when I was forced to do so by the phone company. Call me a Luddite if you will, but I didn't get call-waiting until early this year, and I'm still not sure I made the right decision. Moreover, while I did get a cell phone when I genuinely needed one for a few months, I discontinued the service when I realized that I really didn't have to be available 24/7. I do have an answering machine which lets me dial in (sorry, touch-tone in) and pick up my messages.

Still, I'm not immune to the siren call of technology. I recently purchased an ultrasonic toothbrush. I think that was a practical decision, because I'd heard very positive reports from friends and family about how it made their gums healthier and gave their dentists less cause to berate them. (Most common complaint about dentists: the needle. Second-most common complaint: being chastised for not flossing four times a day.)

While my decision to get high-tech about my chompers may have scientifically motivated, there's no denying that I was attracted to the fact that an ultrasonic toothbrush is pretty darn neat. I think my fellow technophiles understand the nuance of what I'm saying here. "Neat" doesn't mean tidy, it means cool, nifty, spiffy. I'm talking the cat's pajamas, here.

Once you succumb to the sweet lure of gadgets, it's fun to sneer at those who have last week's innovation. While discussing my tooth peripheral with a friend, I discovered that his older model pulsated the cleaning head at a mere 20,000 cycles per second. Mine, on the other hand, polished my incisors at an impressive 40 Kilohertz. Showing my concern, I suggested, "Have you considered overclocking your toothbrush?"

Science and technology have made our lives better in so many ways. For example, when I visit my dentist and he pulls out the pliers, I'm rather glad somebody invented Novocaine. While new developments have created their own problems (such as cell phones ringing out "Do You Think Think I'm Sexy?" during a funeral service), we do enjoy the freedom and power these advances have given us.

What's "neat" to me is something that I think will continue this trend. I think those of us who appreciate this inherent wonderfulness are making an almost religious assessment when we award something a "neat" rating. After all, what is religion but a desire for things to get better? Those of you with Bibles might be reminded of Hebrews 11:1 when you hear about the latest doo-dad: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

Technology as religion? Well, you may know a few Star Wars fans who have, shall we say, lost a bit of their focus. They lose track of the underlying mythos, dreaming instead of owning their own light saber.

Hmm. I wonder if a miniature light saber would be good for cleaning teeth?

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