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I am one of those people who has a love/hate relationship with technology. On the one hand, I find it fascinating and useful because of the way it works and makes information available, and on the other hand, I hate the way it seems to turn people into lazy, useless, dependent drones who can't do anything that doesn't involve pushing a button or plugging something into a wall. It's a double edged sword, that's for sure and definitely presents us with an interesting dichotomy to try and resolve.
For someone like myself, who is curious about almost everything, it is a wonderful investigative tool. I recently read an article about how advertisers and companies like to sneak into your system to discover what kinds of things you are looking up on the web and use that information to target you for products and services. When they weasel their way into my system and start analyzing my search history it must cause them some serious confusion since I look up everything from the Battle of Baden to how to crochet a tea cosy. The only things they won't find in my search history are the doings of celebrities and the history of jug bands. Actually, I might look up jug bands sometime in the future now that I think about it.
While I admit to serious misgivings regarding the world wide web, (evidently, the most searched for subject is pornography), I have to say that I have found it incredibly useful. In the course of a single day I can find myself curious about at least a dozen things that I want to look up, everything from the origin of phrases in the English language to the best way to cook a sweet potato, and being able to instantly gratify that curiosity is something that makes me extremely happy. Despite my enthusiasm for the web, I should mention that I am not one of those people who believes everything they read on it without question. If there is any controversy regarding the veracity of information on a subject, I do not accept anything on face value and I always do thorough research. I am an information junkie – not an idiot. Not in that regard, anyway.
One of the best aspects of the Internet is the ability to look up things like home remedies and how-to's on fixing things. I do this a lot and have found it amazingly helpful. I abhor our throw-away consumer culture and would rather fix anything than casually toss it out and replace it if at all possible. I have used the web to fix lamps, appliances, electronics, cars, and furniture, remove stains, treat injuries, and a myriad of other small disasters and problems. I absolutely love it when I can find a way to solve problems and fix things myself. I'm weird that way.
One day my daughter, who lives in Canada, called me in a state of panic because her hair had turned green after she went swimming in a pool. Although she is a blond and this happens most frequently to the fair-haired, it was a first time disaster for her and she was horrified. The first thing I did was have her send me a picture so that I could determine the full extent of the disaster, so she emailed me a digital photo. Naturally, I assumed that she was exaggerating somewhat in her panic when she said that it was as green as the hills of England but when I saw the photograph I realized that she was actually being kind of low key. Her hair was really green. I'm talking Incredible Hulk, Area 51 alien, guacamole green. Panic was justified. She told me that she had called her hair stylist who had advised her that she needed to come into the shop, spend close to $100, and have the green removed professionally. I told her that I refused to accept that as some kind of final solution and went to work researching the methodology of green hair.
First, I researched what causes green hair. I had always been told and assumed that it was chlorine. Evidently, it has nothing to do with chlorine and everything to do with the metal content of the water. If there is a lot of copper, which is often found in algaecides, in swimming pool water it will oxidize and bind to the proteins in the hair shaft. Imagine that. Poor chlorine has been taking the wrap for green hair for decades and it is totally innocent. After learning everything I could about the causes of my daughter's Kermit the Frog look, I continued on to research how to make it go away. Needless to say, there were a number of sites that insisted that the only way to conquer the green hair problem was to purchase some ridiculously expensive product, which I totally ignored since I never believe that kind of claim. I then went on to other sites, blogs, and videos to gather a wide variety of opinion on the eradication of green hair, some with complex explanations of the chemical interaction involved and why recommended solutions would work. After doing the research and analyzing the resultant data, I advised my daughter to slather her head with tomato sauce, leave it on for about 20 minutes, rinse it with white or apple vinegar and repeat as needed. She complied and low and behold, the green was gone. Victory was ours! So was the $100 that she thought might not be hers much longer.
All this goes to prove that the key to resolving any mixed feelings we might have about electronics and the Internet making us into useless, helpless human beings is how we use it. We can go places that can help us be smarter, more clever, and more useful, or we can go places that turn us into mindless, entertainment-addicted drones who can't get out of our own way. Like many things, in the end, the choice is ours.
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