Compromise: Nature and Technology

There’s nothing quite like a drive down a rustic path in New England this time of year.  Oh, how the leaves change their colors, moving briskly from the lush greens of spring and summer to their mournful autumn hues, signaling an end to each leaf’s life.  It is this essence of renewal that constantly keeps nature moving forward.  Yet it is also a harbinger of a different kind of life:  Halloween, Thanksgiving, maise mazes, seasonal allergies, football.

Oh how I love the fall, I just don’t know how to enjoy it!  I could take a dalliance through the majestic New Hampshire countryside, soaking in all of the various colors and hues, helping to prove God’s very existence as he paints each leaf with its own unique color; its own story to tell.  Maybe I will drive down through Pennsylvania, with its rolling hills and festive mounds of coal, nod to it, and thank it in advance for all of the warmth it will provide as these winter months approach, covering nature (and our houses) in a blanket of frosty white.  Possibly I’ll stroll through the woods in Vermont, taken aback in awe at the splendor and majesty of the tall pines that give us little grass needles for school projects, pine cones for school projects, and…cell phone reception?  That’s not a tree.  That’s a fucking cell phone tower.

We are not a people of compromise.  It’s just not in our nature.  Look at our government:  you elect people who are extremely to the right, and they “fail,” so in their stead we elect someone completely to the left, who then “fails,” and then you vote for the conservative, and we go on and on like this until we eventually get off the ride because we’re going to throw up.  As much as I’d love to rationally believe otherwise, we’re a reactionary, “all-or-nothing” society, and this stupid looking tree thing is the perfect example.

Not only do we want great cell phone reception everywhere we go, we demand it.  Talk to anyone with an iPhone and it’s the only thing they talk about.  Not its ability to use email, FaceTime, to multi-task with a gaggle of apps, play host to a new platform and way of gaming, etc. etc.  No, it’s just “I can NEVER get reception” or “I dunno, I get reception fine.”  That’s it.  Sadly, it’s been like this since my family first got a cell phone (1998-ish); it’s the only thing that mattered.  We had to punch in a 20 digit security code before each use, but no one talked about that.  We were too busy screaming “YOU’RE BREAKING UP!!!” into the speaker, shaking our heads, and saying “I don’t know why I just don’t use a land line,” completely missing the point of having an emergency mobile phone.

For years–years!–everyone in my tiny New Jersey town complained about reception.  It didn’t matter what company, what phone, or where you were in our 2.1 square-miled slice of suburbia you were in, you were better off using a tin can with a string to try and call someone.  Eventually, our government heard of this, and they forwarded it to Nameless Corporation, and Nameless Corporation offered to help by installing a new cell phone tower in our town which Nameless Corporation would maintain and operate for no charge and, on top of it all, pay us for the inconvenience of having said solution in our town.

In case you missed it, we were offered:

  • A solution to our problem
  • An end to everyone’s constant gripes
  • Getting paid annually to have this problem ended for us
  • Have no responsibility to maintain or care for the solution to this problem

And fuuuuck did we complain about it.

Look how ugly it is!  Look at how ungodly terrible it is!  It’s a big tall…thing!  Right in the middle of our town/community/park/barren land outside of town that no one actually uses or looks at!  HOW DAAAAARE YOU ASSIST US BY PRACTICALLY DONATING A SOLUTION TO US AND THEN ACTING AS IF THIS SOMETHING WE WOULD WANT!!!  Anywhere Nameless Corporation wanted to put it, we got upset.  Any solution they had to the issue, unthinkable!, because no one wanted a giant thing protruding from the ground and breaking the third floor threshold (what, are we going to go against ZONING REGULATIONS now, too?).  There were buttons made, fliers xeroxed, and righteous anger all about.  There would have been a rally if anyone could call each other.  Eventually, we got paid enough money and just stuck the thing in the dump (pardon, “recycling center”).  It’s pretty tall, looks stupid, but it allows me to use my $90/a month phone as, well, a phone. I barely realize its there and I get calls all the time.  Hurrah.

I’m sure we’re not the only people who had their problems solved for them and then complained about it, as I was driving around the other day and spotted that wonderfully designed cell phone tower at the top of the post.  Looking like an artificial Christmas tree about three minutes into erection, that tower gives the illusion of being a tree while giving us the ability to laugh at how shittily it’s camouflaged.  So instead of having a normal cell phone tower, which looks kind of like a less-obtrusive radio tower that peppered our lands for the better part of a century, we get this monstrosity to “blend in” with the rest of the world.  We could just rationally agree as a people that in order to get one thing, we have to give up another, and just have some piece of mind with that.  But no.  We get the technological equivalent of a three-year-old playing “hide n’ seek” by holding their hands over their eyes and thinking that they’re now hidden.  How is this better?  How does this “blend in” any more?

This is what passes as “compromise.”  And christ is it stupid.


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