Updated: April 25, 2013 7:09AM
The burst of electronic technology in the 21st century has produced at least two connected but unexpected results.
First, technology has made life better except in the equal number of cases where it seems to make life harder. Second, the world is packed with more amazing gadgets that fewer of us understand.
The latest testimony to these phenomena occurred recently in Tinley Park’s Brookside Marketplace mall where some imbedded electronic monitoring system (apparently anti-theft barriers at a nearby retail store) prevented some cars in the parking lot from being started with their keyless ignition devices.
New technology yielded to old instincts, and baffled and frustrated drivers called for tows. The ghost-in-the-machine has struck often enough to be a trend. But away from the lot, the cars sprang to life as the engines suddenly started — spookily and creepily, with no apparent human intervention.
So now we have evidence of technology being capable of starting your locked car remotely from Indonesia but not when you’re standing two feet from the door. A real metal key that you insert into the lock and ignition? Talk about old school, grandpa. Get with the times.
No need to quibble over the obvious, though. Medicine, communications and transportation, among other things, are vastly better than even 20 years ago. But ’fess up. You don’t know how almost anything you own works. When it breaks, you’ll probably have to buy a new one.
And even if technology is superior now, you still fight the urge to beg for older values.
Sure, new cars last for 150,000 miles without falling into a rusted heap, but no one passionately loves today’s cars. You secretly wish Ford would take your $2,368 and deliver the same Mustang ragtop that your dad bought in 1964.
There’s even a theory that technology makes us measurably dumber and less thoughtful over time because it anesthetizes us to comfort. Our machines remember more, but we retain less.
Want proof? If you lose your cellphone today, can you remember what mom’s phone number is?