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High Tech Toll

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A man walks into a bar, sits down, and starts poking at his hand and putting it next to his ear.

“What are you doing?” asks the bartender.

“It’s the newest technology — I have a phone built into my hand.” The man puts his hand to the bartender’s ear and he hears a dial tone.

After a few drinks, the man goes to the bathroom and doesn’t come back.

Half an hour later the bartender goes to see if the man is okay and finds him standing with his legs apart and his pants down around his ankles.

He has a bored look on his face and the end of a roll of paper towels shoved up his bum.

“What are you doing?” the bartender yells.

“I’m waiting for a fax.”

I think that cheeky little joke highlights a common fault with high tech living.

The problem, though, isn’t with the technology itself; it is with the way we chose to use it… which for many of us seems to be as much as possible.

Here are a couple more stories that might help clarify what I mean.

Two friends of mine spotted an interesting looking pub one morning while they were wandering around a foreign city.

When they walked back that evening, however, they couldn’t find the place so one of them pulled out a smart phone to help them locate it on Google Maps.

While they were searching, a resident approached and asked what they were looking for.

When they told him, he offered to escort the couple to the pub and on the way he shared a great deal of interesting history about both the pub and the city and the chat turned out to be a highlight of the trip.

The woman’s comment when she told me that tale was, “Why on earth did I pull out my phone when I could have just asked one of the people on the street?”

The other story comes from a friend who is collecting data for a weather tracking company in England.

She goes to different regions for several days at a time and drives a car load of sophisticated instruments around the back roads between 11pm and 6am to record conditions at the coldest times of day.

Most of the drivers move back and forth between night-drives and normal nine to five shifts behind a desk so remaining alert through the night can be quite difficult.

With that in mind, their employer provides comfortable hotel rooms near their routes so, in theory at least, they can crash between drives instead of during them.

But here’s the thing; the accommodation side of the business has been farmed out to a company that uses a computer program to find the cheapest acceptable rooms for each night.

That means if rates change during a driver’s stay, he or she may have to check out of one hotel and into another at 11am.

That makes it extremely difficult for the drivers to get a good sleep which is not good for the drivers or the employer since each car is loaded with millions of pulas worth of equipment that could be damaged or destroyed in an accident.

Sure, technology can be great; but when it is over used it can be a pain in the butt, socially limiting and in the worst cases, dangerous.