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Lately, I've been watching this new series "La Brea" on NBC, which includes my favorite sci-fi theme: time travel. At one point, two of the characters step through a portal and find themselves in 1988.
My first thought: sign me up. I'd give anything to go back to the '80s. Or better yet, the '50s.
If I were granted one wish, I'd want a time machine to go back to before technology sucked all the fun and quality out of life.
Imagine a world where milk was delivered to your home, tasting great in glass bottles, where telephones lasted decades. You could work on your car without hooking it up to a computer to find out what's wrong, where products made in the USA didn't fall apart after a year.
More importantly, a world where you didn't lose old friends because you exercised your right to free speech and spoke your opinion.
Sure, email is a money-saving way for me to send manuscripts. I enjoy the fact that I can watch my beloved Mets and Giants on satellite television. And read news stories on websites like this one. Other than that, I'd be happy to trade it all to live before technology controlled everyday life. Beam me outta here.
I continue to be amazed that cell phones literally dominate the lives of some people. But if you work for a living, they're nothing but electronic leashes.
Back in the '80s, we had a reporter who had a habit of calling in sick on weekends. After a while, we stopped answering the phone on weekend mornings. Just tell the boss we weren't home. Now, you can't hide. You're on call 24/7.
Of course, Caller ID sucked all the fun out of telephone games we played as kids. "Is your refrigerator running? Well, go catch it!"
This Thanksgiving, the place settings will look like this: forks, spoons, a knife, a plate and a cell phone. Young people will be texting during dinner. On Christmas morning, kids will be locked in on some electronic toy. Or a new cell phone. (And there will be a new, updated version next Christmas.) I was looking forward to being a "get off my lawn" guy, but kids no longer play outside.
But the biggest culprit taking the fun out of life: social media. Nothing social about it. Back in the day, road rage meant occasionally flipping the bird at a driver who cut you off. Now it's a virtual never-ending global electronic argument in which you lose friends and gain complete strangers as enemies… simply because you are using your right to free speech. Hopefully, Elon Musk can make things fair on Twitter because these days, anything you disagree with is considered "misinformation." Careful, you might get canceled. Your life is destroyed because you have the wrong opinion in the eyes of the Ministry of Truth.
Yes, imagine a world where reporters and elected officials thought censorship was an outrage. Gotta hop in the time machine. Back in the day, I would have been fired in a heartbeat for advocating censorship and challenging the right to free speech. There's this thing called the First Amendment, something our veterans defended with their lives.
Science fiction can often be prophetic, and social media is really manifesting itself as the "Terminator" series. For those unfamiliar, a system called Skynet becomes self-aware and creates terminators to destroy all humans. And since we are lately hearing about artificial intelligence potentially becoming self-aware, it's clear that a movie made in 1984 was spot on.
Except if some self-aware computer system wants to take down society, it doesn't need terminators. We're doing a great job destroying ourselves with social media.
Randy Tatano is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow, and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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