Archived Story

Don’t rely on technology

Published 5:37pm Monday, October 21, 2013

I experienced a double-dose of technology failure this week.
On Wednesday, most Lake Martin area residents shared my experience.
Cell phones using AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile stopped working. Internet stopped working. In Alexander City, banks closed, ATM machines stopped working and people who didn’t have cash were not able to buy anything for much of the day. Emergency services were severely handicapped. Only Nextel and Charter customers were spared the problems. There’s no telling how much business was lost in our area that day.
It was a little bit like one of those doomsday stories about nuclear pulse weapons that can shut down all electronics and cause modern society to halt in a blink of an eye. Thankfully, it wasn’t a terrorist “e-bomb” but a simple cut of a fiber optic communication cable that caused the problem.
By late afternoon, the cable was repaired and everything started working again.
But for a portion of the day, the regular daily life we’re accustomed to here in the U.S. halted.
Early in the day, a couple of employees here at Tallapoosa Publishers were at a loss how to proceed.
I said newspapers have been gathering and distributing the news long before the Internet, or the cell phone, or even the land-line telephone, and I pointed out that Benjamin Franklin managed to get a paper out before our country was born. It turns out we still have the old-school know-how to do so today … by the time 21st century communications were restored Wednesday afternoon, much of our Thursday Outlook was completed.
Then on Thursday my wife Mary Lyman and I decided to attend the funeral of Steve Kendrick, the father of TPI employee David Kendrick.
We got the address of the Kellyton Chapel United Methodist Church, plugged it into my now working smart phone – that one that didn’t work the day before but showed all signs of working properly on Thursday – and got turn-by-turn directions using Google Maps.
I drove from Alexander City toward Kellyton but the computerized GPS voice kept telling me to turn left.
So I gave in, turned back toward Alexander City and followed the directions through Spring Hill and wound up not too far from Five Star Plantation.
When my “smart” phone said “You have arrived at your destination,” there was no church in sight. We drove around for 15 minutes longer before Mary Lyman spotted a very large number of cars parked along both sides of County Road in Kellyton.
On a hunch, we turned in and managed to arrive at the Kellyton Chapel 20 minutes late.
It was a small church. The doors were shut, and there appeared to be very large crowd inside. We didn’t want to disturb the service that had already been going for such a long while, so we missed the chance to give David our sympathies in person.
Thursday afternoon, as we were driving away from the church, I remembered my point about Benjamin Franklin the day before and realized that if I found the church the old-fashioned way by asking directions and looking on a paper map, we would have gotten there just fine.
I like modern technology as much as the next guy. It makes our lives easier and allows us to be more productive.
But we all need to realize that technology is just a tool … one that might not always be there at the push of a button.
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.