Technology has changed things, for good and bad

With another impeachment fiasco facing our nation, and the inevitable onslaught of social media posts and memes designed to tell us how to think and feel about things, I can’t help but long for a simpler time.

A time when people didn’t carry mobile devices at all times that could capture video and photos at a moment’s notice. A time when friends didn’t attack one another for their political or religious beliefs because, you know, people were too respectful of one another to try to force their own opinions down each other’s throats. A time when people didn’t share their deepest, darkest feelings via 280 characters on a screen.

You know, like 10 minutes ago.

Obviously, social media and the proliferation of mobile devices has been around longer than 10 minutes, but it wasn’t all that long ago when people called each other to speak if they were far away, or wrote letters or visited. It wasn’t in a time far, far ago when people called a phone number to get the correct time or drove to a library to get information that is now accessible through the touch of a button.

So, yeah, there is some good and bad from this recent explosion in technology. Obviously, it’s nice to be able to access information in moments. It’s become particularly useful in my business and, of equal importance, when I’m arguing with friends about a baseball player’s stats in 1976. And, as the father of a child, it’s great having a camera on me at all times, so there’s never really a treasured moment I’m going to miss, except for those lapses in memory when I forget there is indeed a camera in my pocket.

As far as social media, it does have a place, particularly when one considers the “social” part of it. I’ve reunited with people from my childhood, men I served with in the Marine Corps and family members who live in different corners of the world. I have joined group pages that focus on particular hobbies or interests I have, and it’s a great way to share ideas and learn new concepts.

But there’s also the seedy underbelly of it all, right? The ability for an ISIS or similar organization to recruit vulnerable people to their ranks. The way child predators can target young people behind the anonymity of a screenname, or how people say whatever they want to people, knowing there is no real-life repercussion for running their mouths.

And then there’s the division between people who have been longtime friends or family — division often spent arguing over politics, religion or which restaurant has a better duck sauce, and many of these arguments are fought with memes.

It’s insane, when you think about it. The world has gone crazy, one meme at a time. To be precise, the world has gone crazy, one meme at a time — and the memes are often inaccurate to begin with, thus making the fights even crazier.

I often think about how life would have been at different junctures if this modern technology had been around. It usually makes me smile to think that people couldn’t just take pictures or videos at any time when I was, say, in high school. Or I wonder about how many ridiculous tweets I would have made when I was an adolescent that would have popped back up 35 years later to cause my adult life to come crashing down around me.

With the impeachment hullabaloo going on in Washington right now, and with 300 million Americans professing to be political science experts these days, there is bound to be an avalanche of memes, personal attacks and downright anger flying around every corner of social media.

The same way the 24-hour news cycle made the O.J. Simpson case “the trial of the century,” that same unrelenting news coverage and mainstream existence of social media promises to make this situation something the likes we have never seen before.

That got me thinking...

By the way, I paused for dramatic effect there, just so you know. I figured I’d let it build so you thought I had something really fascinating to say. Alas, I do not. But I did let my mind wander to some possible tweets if social media had been around for much longer than it has:

• Big day today at the Senate! Really expecting some unity from the guys. — @GaiasJC_in_Rome

• Heading off to London, going solo like a big red cup. I do wish somebody would go ahead and invent a GPS. #FlyBoyAcrossAtlantic — @CLindbergh

• You wouldn’t believe what happened when I smashed these two rocks together over a pile of sticks. Oh, yeah. Ugga Mugga is in da house! — @UggaMuggaFromCave16

• Really looking forward to getting away on vacation with my brothers. Plan on getting out into some nature, doing a little gambling and taking tons of selfies at the OKCorral — @WyEarp

• I have a really good feeling about this newspaper. I mean, it can’t be too hard, right? — @SusanLyonsCoastalPoint