Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

We enjoyed our annual trip to Hazleton to visit our friends who live there. I also use the time while in Pennsylvania to do some research into the history of the area, and the people, as I’ve been working on a story that takes place in the northeastern portion of that state.

During past trips, we’ve visited various museums and historical areas connected to the boom times of the coal years. We’ve also ventured to Gettysburg, and the Civil War museum and State Capitol building in Harrisburg.

We’ve gone to the haunted jail in Jim Thorpe, taken a tour of the Lackawanna Mines (though I declined to go underground with my husband and our friend) and have twice visited Steamtown USA—the national railroad museum—in Scranton.

We’ve driven through what’s left of Centralia, the borough that became deserted after the mine fire that began burning beneath it in 1962—and is burning there, still.

It’s interesting to get to know a region, little by little over the years. My husband and I both think the area we go to is coming back a bit from the worst of the recession of 2008. Our friend, who has lived there all his life, assures us there are still those who believe the mines and associate industries of the region’s boom times will come back—just as soon as everyone gets over this silly Internet craze, and trying to import new businesses into the area.

It’s taken me a few years to understand that there really are people who actually think like that. Of course, we know that technology never—in the history of the inhabitants of this planet—has ever gone backward—starting with fire, and the wheel. Maybe it will happen one day. Maybe we’ll come up with some form of technology that seems good, and isn’t, and in fact threatens us so badly that we will ban it all together from the face of the planet.

But I’m not holding my breath.

In essence, the truth is that technology in and of itself isn’t good, and it isn’t bad. The only “good versus evil” is found in the souls of the people who use the technology—and in what they use it for.
I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to the Internet, the programs I use for writing, and the social media scene that I’m a part of. Not bad for a woman who will never see 60 again. There are some, older than I, who are also computer literate.

Of course there are a lot of people who aren’t. My brother is one. 10 years my senior, he doesn’t have (nor does he want) a cell phone. He has no idea of the uses of the items that are displayed on the cover of the Best Buy catalogue, and he barely surfs the web at all. His wife is one up on him there as, while she will never own a cell phone or an e-book reader,  does look everywhere on line to find her amusements.

My brother doesn’t understand the allure of Sudoku games at all.

Spending time with our friends in Pennsylvania just underscored this divide in thinking. Our friend is a bit younger than us and quite Internet savvy. His mother, of course, a woman in her eighties, doesn’t understand the attraction, nor does she want to. They have satellite television now, a new innovation he convinced her to try because it was more cost effective than the local cable company. I’m not sure how many hundreds of channels they have available to them. She—our friend’s mom—will travel between the same five or six channels she knew on the cable system. And that is all.

She also gets quite annoyed when her daughter and family come over to visit because they are on their cell phones constantly—texting or updating social media, instead of actually visiting.
Having experienced such a visit from them while we were in town, I can understand the older woman’s annoyance. But again, that has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the people using the technology.

Mr. Tuffy accompanied us to Pennsylvania, as did our daughter. He traveled well, again, and was a perfect gentleman while visiting. He clearly remembered the people and the place from last year—and that following our friend when he went out to the kitchen was certain to net him a tasty tidbit.

All in all, a good time was had by all.

Love,
Morgan

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