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Overtaken by the new world of gadgets and texting

The other day I was sitting at a local fast food restaurant and across from me were four high school-aged students and I noted that none of them were talking to any of the other three.


All were “chatting” away on their hand-held computer devices. Two got up to get their food and one went to his car. That left a single member of the quartet at the table. Talkative guy that I am I had to say something to him.

“Why are you guys so engrossed in your cell phones?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” was the reply.

At this point, let me say that I was thrilled that someone in that age bracket actually talked to me, seeing as how the lines of communications between older folks and teenagers have become increasing strained. But, I was also put off by the fact that I didn’t get a direct answer. The student had answered me with a question.

So I pressed on by saying, “What I meant was, ‘why are you so busy on your phones that you don’t even talk to your friends here in the restaurant?’”

“Oh, but I am ‘talking’ with friends,” was the reply. “I’m online with a girl in Germany.”

At this point, I didn’t even bring up the issue of why young people today text instead of talking. After all, aren’t they using what we used to call cellular telephones? I guess my use of the word “used” actually answers the question. Talking is old technology. Texting is new.

I wish I knew someone who made cheap t-shirts. I’d love to have one that said: “TEXTING IS FOR DEAF-MUTES.”

I figure that as long as God has given me a very persuasive manner of communicating by talking, that’s the way I’ll communicate … whether it’s face-to-face or on the telephone.

But, today’s generation tells me there are some reasons why texting works better than talking. For example, here in California, while driving, you can text without holding the phone up to your face and being arrested for driving while using a cell phone without a handset. In school, you can ask for and get answers to test questions by texting someone while holding your phone in a hidden place. Many people, you know, can “touch type” and do texting without looking.

Now, before you think I’m a stuck-in-the-mud person who hates modern-day technology, I have to tell you that that that is not the case. Decades ago, while living in Washington, DC, I had one of the first consumer video cassette machines. A friend and I were on the cutting edge of doing home videos, even inserting pre-taped segments on the fly.

Because my roommate at the time was a salesman for one of the only-two cellular telephone companies in the Washington area, I was the first among my friends to have a cell phone. I was known as “Mr. Gadget” to many of my friends because I couldn’t resist buying every piece of new technology I could find.

But now that I’m semi-retired, my desire to be on the cutting edge has not diminished …. but my pocketbook has.

Who buys all that high-tech stuff for all the young people I see running around texting while watching Hollywood movies on tiny portable screens and listening to 10,000 abrasive example of today’s “music,” all stored in a playback device the size of a book of matches?

I guess it must be their parents? I’ve never seen any of these kids working so it has to be their parents. Now, here comes the rub. If either of my parents were to buy me some new and exciting electronic gadget it would make world news. I can see the headline: “PARENT SENDS CHECK FROM GRAVE TO BUY SON DVD PLAYER.”

My in-home radio studio is filled with gadgets, though some of them go back to the 1960s. Fortunately, all of my decades-old radio stuff works. But, ironically, what doesn’t work is my modern-day computer.

I bring this up because I never thought I would see the day when, gadget-wise, we have so put so many of our “eggs in one basket.” When my main computer went out a few days ago, I realized that the totality of my projects I do for people, including the daily RELIGION & ETHICS REPORT that I produce for,  were done on my now-dead machine. Years of e-mail correspondence and hundreds of hours of radio production are stored in a computer that will now barely turn on.

We have come a long way since everything had moving parts and, with a schematic drawing and some three-and-one oil, you could fix just about everything. Now that everything is hidden away inside our computers, we have become slaves to our inventions. We rely on too few things to do too many things. I say, “Bring back the index cards and the Rolodexes and the fax machines and pen, paper and envelopes.”

If you know of anyone who wants to give me a computer for my birthday, let me know. Even though my birthday is not until March, I can pretend it is tomorrow as the need is so urgent. (If you can help, you can contact me for the address to send it to at:

Message from Dan Wooding: Another suggestion is that if you appreciate Dennis Daily’s wonderful work for ASSIST News Service in producing his daily RELIGION & ETHICS REPORT, and would like to contribute towards a new desktop computer for him to replace the one that has almost died, just go to our secure site at: and make your gift at “Where Needed Most.” Then could you e-mail me at and let me know what you have been able to donate and I will pass all the gifts onto Dennis for his new computer.

Dennis Daily

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