Column: Imagine what it would be like

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 06:19 AM

While traveling last weekend, and with a multitude of late flights, I had the opportunity to read James Patterson’s book “Zoo.” It was an interesting tale about animals that suddenly turn violent, and it is eventually discovered that the increased use of fossil fuels and cellphones were the culprits. The only solution was to turn off the heat, electricity and cellphones.

It made me think about how dependent we are now as opposed to generations ago, when people survived by growing their own food and didn’t even imagine televisions, much less computers, iPads and iPhones. It was also a gentle reminder about how far we’ve come in just a century or so.

Well, when I came back to the office on Tuesday morning I thought maybe some part of “Zoo” actually happened. Traffic lights were not working, the McDonald’s parking lot was empty, and my office was so dark that I couldn’t even find my desk. Phones were out. The computers didn’t work. And none of us really knew what to do, as it was impossible to work. A few people stopped by but most of the staff left to visit customers or work from their homes. It was another example of how dependent we’ve become on technology. Most days it makes our lives a lot easier, and I find it impossible to imagine a world without these conveniences. Although even today many people around the world would have no idea what I am talking about, as they live in rural parts of the world farming much like our great-grandparents, or they live in poverty and have little access to conveniences.

But it was interesting to wonder what the world would be like without these conveniences. People wouldn’t commute an hour a day to work. No distracted drivers, as they wouldn’t be on their cellphones, talking or texting. No fast food restaurants, as everyone would make their meals at home. Families probably would not spread out across the country, unless they never wanted to see each other again. We wouldn’t care about “Duck Dynasty” or the NFL or about some celebrity who has already had too much plastic surgery.

We would actually know our neighbors because at times we would depend on them.