Would we survive without technology?

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sitting in the Charlotte, N.C., airport last week, I came to an overwhelming conclusion: Our entire society would be in trouble if our technology went bye bye.

It was impossible to count how many people were talking on their cell phones, texting, working on laptops, listening to their iPods and a host of other things that involved lots of wire and electronics.

And it isn’t just teens or twenty- and thirty-somethings either.

Email newsletter signup

Oh no, far from it actually. I saw grandmas and grandpas just Twittering away (well, I really don’t know exactly what they were texting on their phones). I saw teens pecking away on their laptops and portable computers. I saw businessmen and women chatting away with their little Bluetooth headset devices tucked behind their ears.

But I’m not throwing stones. I was right there with them all, cell phone in hand.

And considering we had all hopped into our bells-and-whistle-filled automobiles just to get there and were waiting on massive hi-tech hunks of metal to carry us through the air, I got to thinking about a somewhat morbid scenario.

What if it all went away? What if technology and our communications systems ceased to function for one reason or the other?

Everyone has seen the Hollywood films that show a post-apocalyptic future where society as we know it ceases to exist. In fact, there are two more movies coming out this year. One with Denzel Washington as the wayward hero and the other based on Cormac McCarthy’s riveting and emotionally powerful novel “The Road.”

Whether it is a massive disease epidemic, nuclear war, asteroids hitting the earth, virtual zombies roaming the planet or some other far-fetched scenario, the reality is that something could happen to cause massive breakdowns in the societal structures on which we have all become so dependent.

So how would we fare if there was some sort of catastrophe that crippled our communications systems and other infrastructure?

I get the feeling it wouldn’t be so well.

Many of us — me included — feel lost when our cell phones or laptop batteries go dead. A few hours of that and I feel disconnected with the world.

Take away the Internet and TV and telephones for a few days, no problem. Take them away forever and, whoa, now that is a much scarier picture.

What if government ceased to operate? What if businesses and corporations closed their doors? Does our current society that is mostly pampered here in America have what it takes to overcome?

I don’t know the answer to that.

Would I be a survivor in some bleak future?

I would like to think so, relying on my belief that the most powerful tool in existence is the indomitable human spirit.

Hopefully we won’t ever find out and we can all keep tweeting, clicking, chatting and texting away.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.