Things Your SgtMaj Hates: Technology!

It’s true. I regard technological advances with a certain amount of distrust. The more advanced and complicated a given device is, the greater the chance it will fail to perform as advertised. For example, an XMZulu 95 Gauss Rifle in a 30 watt range will inevitably fail right when I need it to vaporize a tidal wave of undead. A big ass rock, on the other hand, will never fail to cave in a zombie skull. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about technology but I don’t necessarily equate technological advances with human progress. For the purpose of brevity, we will stick with cellphones as the example of the regression of human society.

I tend to be a late adopter of any new gadgetry. In fact, my first cell phone was issued to me by the Marine Corps.  It has the dubious distinction of being the technology which introduced me to the convenience of receiving bad news twenty four hours a day. It also ensured I can never, ever be left alone without a valid excuse. “SgtMaj, what do you mean you were at the zoo and accidentally dropped your phone into a jar of peanut butter which was then devoured by a polar bear?”

Proponents of cell phones claim it allows people better communication. I disagree. How come when I see two people walking down the street together they are inevitably both on the phone with someone else?

Most of the time on the phone we don’t even get to speak to another human anyway. Usually I end up spending five minutes scrolling through audio menus which never have a selection for what I’m calling about to begin with. Conversely, whenever I talk to a human they usually (not always) understand what I want.

For some time I’ve questioned the benefit of cyber technologies which allow people to communicate to online friends across the globe yet remain ignorant of the names of their next door neighbors. It’s as if immersing oneself in your own personal electronic bubble gives us license to shut out our immediate reality.

As Marines we are taught to be situationally aware of our surroundings. I was in a crowded coffee shop last weekend and noted nearly everyone was obliviously staring down at their phone. If someone were to suddenly choke on a scone I fear the only reaction may have been to complain about the corpse blocking access to the condiments. Stepping over a body in order to add cinnamon to their venti-soy-no-foam-mochachino-peppermint-latte might be too much to bear. 

If anything, I feel the advent of new technologies hasn’t done anything to support the erroneous concept of the “basic goodness of mankind.” 

You may disagree, that’s cool. Feel free to write me a letter about it. The U.S. Postal Service could use the business.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

Update: Naturally, I find out this very topic has already been in the headlines for days moments after I posted this. Go figure.

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  1. One of the things that frustrates me with cell phones is the fact that they function a bit like walkie-talkies. If one person is talking, the other person is shut out. If you’re on the phone with someone who never takes a breath, but to whom you nevertheless need to speak, you’re just stuck.

    The other problem I have with phone calls with anyone but my sister is that I cannot catch people’s rhythm. I don’t know when they’re winding down or building up. I don’t know when they’re ready to listen or just pausing. It makes for such awkward moments, when people speak simultaneously, fall silent, and then start all over again — kind of like cars all arriving at the same time at an intersection with four-way stops, and then trying to figure out who has right of way.

    Having said all that, my phone is absolutely essential to me. I have lot of dependents who often need (or think they need) to reach me. Also, more often than not, the only time I’m ever in a place where people aren’t making demands on me, and where I can have the luxury of a nice talk, is when I’m in my car. I cherish those moments and am grateful for my phone.

  2. The most terrible event I’ve witnessed concerning cell phones is four friends at dinner in a restaurant and all are tap-tapping on their cell phones. No conversation, not so much eating as wolfing down their food to work the cramps out of their fingers. Awful.

  3. I only carry a cell phone out in the woods hunting.
    I’m getting old. That way my wife can find the body and collect the insurance money.


  4. Cell phones were invented by peeps afraid to make their own decisions. The project was supervised by bosses who were terrified that one of their underlings might actually succeed at his/her task without having to have his/her hand held 24/7.


  5. Book, I find I have a similar problem. I’m always stepping on someone’s sentence when I mistakenly think there is a pause in their cadence.

    Anonymous One, nothing like a night out with “friends.”

    Mark, good thinking. Mind adding me to your policy?

    Grimmy, I thought it was based on Capt Kirk’s communicator?

  6. “Grimmy, I thought it was based on Capt Kirk’s communicator?”

    Eggs-actly. Notice how micromanagerious that whole bunch was? Either the ship’s Capt or XO on *every* landing party?

    “Sir! There’s a rock over here, what should I do?”
    “Sir, my arse itches, what should I do?”
    “Crewman, what does the air smell like?”
    “Crewman, try not to fall off the edge of this cliff.”

    – Grimmy

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