Teacher ‘s Office: Italy and the dangers of technology columns

A wise man once said that technology “brings you great gifts with one hand and stabs you in the back with the other.” The irony is that technology, no matter how useful, can still cause such debilitating problems.

For example, our eldest daughter recently struggled with the duality of technology during one of her last trips.

Rachel decided to travel to Italy alone. She is quite a fearless adventurer and researcher and as such uses the technological tools available to her innovative generation.

Our daughter is a tech-savvy person, flashing her test phone to gain access to just about anything she wants or needs, from boarding a plane to an Italian wine tour. This is really a different world.

In contrast, my wife and I still have to have physical documents and tickets while attending concerts, performances or flying. My old robot brain is just programmed that way. I still own VHS tapes.

However, I envy the fact that she walked the cobbled streets of Tuscany, witnessed the ruins of Pompeii and stood in the shadow of the Colosseum, soaking up the culture and meeting interesting people in different realms. From overseas, she sent photos of her adventures as her gaze fell on iconic structures I’ve only seen in photos.

And then, just before she returned, she dropped her phone.

“Danger Will Robinson!”

The drop damaged the charging port. She sent a message to her sister to let everyone know that she would be out of range for a while when her battery ran out, and hopefully she could buy a wireless charger. That was the last we heard from her. Scary.

However, her problem has intensified. As it turned out, since she was in Italy when she tried to buy something, she had to confirm the purchase. The bank sent her a message on her phone. However, her phone was dead. As such, she could not buy the charger. She was literally deprived of her money because her phone did not work. And she couldn’t make her phone work because she didn’t have the money.

I would panic and hang myself with Italian spaghetti. Seriously, imagine that you do not have access to your money while you are in a foreign country, and at the same time you can not contact anyone for help because your phone is dead. On top of that, she was alone.

Whenever such things happen to me, I have a wife. I remember once while I was at Applebee, I went to pay the bill and realized I had forgotten my wallet. I panicked and went to the bathroom. I called my wife from the booth and told her about my plan to run away for the car: she would go first, and then I would follow. She calmly replied, “We can use my card.” She was always quick-thinking.

However, Rachel was not deterred. She didn’t look at pasta as a way out. Instead, she approached a stranger (in a foreign land) and borrowed their wireless charger. It wasn’t long before we received messages from her. We were very relieved.

Reflectively, whenever my class reads Ray Bradbury’s work, I find that there is some confusion about what his message is. Many students automatically believe that Bradbury is thematically challenging the existence of technology. However, his argument is not against technology, but rather against the dangers of technology, and these dangers stem from human naivety, not from the tool itself.

In Rachel’s case, even though she uses technology, in a potential crisis she relies on her mind and … human kindness to solve an unexpected dilemma. Bradbury would be proud.

I know I am.

Brian Theodore is a language teacher at Corbyn High School and lives in Corbyn with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. You can contact him at [email protected]

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