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Gag order

So many people have labeled me techno-inept and technophobic that it’s now time to set the record straight.

As for being techno-inept? Guilty as charged.

There’s almost nothing I understand about a computer, except how to turn it on, turn it off, and use it as a typewriter in between.

But so what? Apparently, I don’t need it in any other realms in my life, or if I do, its absence hasn’t caused me a whole lot of discomfort. And if you really want to pursue this issue, think about it: All of us are inept, not only in many things, but in most of them. I don’t know how many professional poker players can perform brain surgery or how many brain surgeons can support themselves playing poker, but I assume each would rather stick with their chosen profession. And ditto for mountain climbers and watchmakers, farriers and diamond cutters, auto mechanics and butchers, even English teachers and plumbers.

I guess if I wanted to put a positive spin on it, I’d say high-tech mastery is only one of the 10,000 things I can’t do. If someone’s a highly-skilled tech-weenie then, to be perfectly fair, they might want to ask themselves what 10,000 things can’t they do?

The ninth wonder

down the tubes

But as technologically-incompetent as I am, I don’t hate technology, per se. Instead, I think technologies have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How about modern medicine you think I’m opposed to it? Well, if you do, guess again. If it wasn’t for today’s medicine, my brother and I, instead of staying in touch by phone and email, would’ve spent the last 20 years communicating through spirit mediums.

Next, take television please.

When it first came out, it was considered the ninth wonder of the world. Oh, the potential! We’d be able to see the greatest performers, the best actors, the funniest comedians. We’d have access to instant and insightful news of the entire world -?as it happened! People believed it’d be a great educational medium, perhaps even the greatest. We were given a scenario where millions of students nationwide sat in classrooms, taking voluminous notes as a brilliant scholar expounded timeless wisdoms and astounding insights on maybe a 24-inch screen (in black and white, of course).

And what happened to that? Well, we all know, but just to drive the point home: We ended up with comedies that aren’t funny, dramas that aren’t dramatic, news that’s of no import, lousy acting, lousy writing, and the highlight of today’s Tube-a-Mania – reality TV.

Reality TV -?ya gotta love that label. A bunch of bunglers of one ilk or another, stumbling over lines written by third-rate hacks. Yes, folks, this is what now passes for “reality” in this great land of ours.

As for it being educational? It is at least according to Groucho Marx. He said, “I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

The killer cell

So the issue isn’t the technology itself, but its consequences. And the problem is, since nobody can tell what’ll happen in the next five minutes, predicting what’ll happen five years from now is beyond moronic.

Who ever could’ve figured out how cell phones would have changed us and our entire way of life? No one, that’s who.

A good thing about cell phones is we can instantly connect with whoever we want. In emergencies, this is priceless. As for the rest of the time, from what I can figure, it’s pretty close to worthless.

Here’s the thing: There’s something about the cell phone, itself, which, aside from its speed and vastness of reach, makes it a dubious benefactor of mankind.

First, young people – and not so young ones anymore -?prefer to communicate through texting, not talking, which might not be all that bad, if people actually said anything in text. But I don’t believe they do. And how can they, when the typical 18-24-year-old sends 100 a day, and the average user sends 50? Could you write 100 notes a day? And if you could, what would they consist of? Same thing as texts, I assume: “How R U? W8 4 me @ McD’s? LOL CU.”

So why do they send so many “messages” if they don’t say anything? Well, it doesn’t make sense if you think of the cell phone as communication. But it makes perfect sense if you consider it a drug? Too harsh a statement? I don’t think so, especially since so many people text when they drive, and damn near everyone talks on their cell when they drive. Give them every kind of warning, threat, fine, you name it, and guess what? They keep phoning and driving, just like the chronic drunk keeps drinking and driving.

Aside from what I think are real dangers -?both personal and vehicular -?what really bothers me about the cell phone is it’s become a substitute for actual conversation and communication. And thus it’s killed the joke teller.

By joke teller, I don’t mean actual comedians. I mean average Joes and Janes who, when the occasion demanded (and for obsessive joke tellers like me, when it often didn’t) they laid a joke on you. Generally, it seemed darn near everyone had a couple jokes in their repertoire, ones they’d told often enough to make people crack up. The obsessives had so many jokes they could make you laugh till you didn’t want to hear another one – not that that stopped them, of course.

Students always told jokes, riddles, puns and the like in class at least until the last few years, when I noticed the jokes had stopped. Then I started asking my classes if anyone knew a joke, and it was slim pickings indeed. No jokes, no puns, no riddles, no nothing.

My assumption is the joke that I adored, passed from person to person, in person, has been replaced by email text and chat, and videos (which can now be accessed by cell phone). And it will never return. RIP.

Still, while the art of joke-telling may be dead, the joke itself is not. Because my students didn’t tell jokes was no reason for me not to, so I’d regularly bring one into class. And you know what? My students, those products of electronic devices, video games and social media, actually laughed.

So after a bunch of ado .

And how could they not, with killer material like this?

Oh yeah, don’t stop me if you’ve already heard them, and please save your applause for later.

Ah-hem:

Last night I ordered an entire meal and amazed there. It was a Chinese restaurant.

I’ve got a photographic memory. It takes an hour to develop.

Two antennas got married. The wedding was pretty bad, but the reception was great.

The Invisible Man married the Invisible Woman. They had a kid but he was nothing to look at.

Now the questions of the Ages:

What kind of key opens a banana? A monkey.

What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A parrot.

Why don’t the jungle animals play cards? Because there are so many cheetahs around.

What lies on top of the ocean and swears constantly? Crude oil.

And saving the best – and most topical – for last:

How do amoebae communicate? Why, with cell phones.

Of course.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You’ve been a great audience, and I am just saying it.