It’s not science fiction anymore


There’s a long-standing science fiction plot that revolves around machines taking over for humans.  Sometimes it’s benevolent; sometimes not so much.  My most recent exposure to this theme was in the enjoyable animated movie Wall-E (yes, that was some time ago, but the plot doesn’t get recycled that much).

Except, it’s not science fiction anymore.  At least not for me.

It was with some dismay that I made this discovery.  September is a month filled with birthdays for me.  I have been able to communicate happy wishes and congratulations to most of those people (some birthday greetings are defeated by the complexity of human interpersonal relationships).  This is not a notable fact; all regular readers of my blog know I’m a big fan of birthdays.

The change this year is that most of my greetings were going out as e-cards.  I am on record as being a lover of birthday cards, sending and receiving.  I think seeing that envelope in your mailbox or on your desk is a thrilling event and that’s even before you actually open it.

I’ve always prided myself on taking the time to write out heartfelt feelings or thoughts within the cards I send.  If ever there’s a time to get mushy, it’s on a card.  Even so, this year has seen me send more e-cards than any actual paper card.  E-cards have only one real benefit:  the ease of delivery.  It’s fast and free (no stamp).  The limitations are many, most notably a paucity of selection and (for me) a paucity of space.

As I ruminated over this new change, my eyes were opened to even more control surrendered to the technology around me.

Given an entire summer without significant demands on my time, I opted to spend most of my time watching baseball on my big screen HD TV instead of visiting the stadium, only about a half-hour’s drive away.  I could always rationalize not attending football games due to the large crowds (bad traffic) and high cost, but baseball?  With my hometown team, they’re lucky to draw enough fans to fill a movie theater and the ticket cost is reasonable.

And about movies.  I find more often that I wait for the Blu-ray or cable release and just watch it at home.  The advances in picture and sound quality for home theaters make it quite satisfying to watch the show on my couch.

Sure, I still get out for my tennis and (recently) bike riding.  Yes, they have not yet come up with a technology substitute for boating or fishing.  But you can clearly see those old science fiction writers weren’t stretching the imagination that much when they envisioned a society increasingly isolated from the physical world around us.  How long before those recently introduced 3D sets turn into the “science fictiony” virtual reality sets that remove our remaining needs to leave our homes?

My one consolation is my recognizing my subtle slip into a techno-drone.  I can now consciously fight against the inevitable, starting with the remaining birthdays this month.  I’ll head out this week to pick up some real cards to send (picking up a bunch of extras for use the rest of the year).  And I’m going to call my friend and see if she wants to go see a movie.

Now if only my baseball team wasn’t moving an hour and a half away next year, I could complete my rebirth.  I’ll just have to settle for calling Dad to set up a fishing trip.

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