Rabbit Ears?

Technology is a great thing, especially when it can take an arduous task and make it more timely and efficient. Unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. Many times I find myself thinking that activities would be easier with just a little more physical or mental exertion and a little less technology. Don’t get me wrong, I am not ready to go back to the Fred Flintstones days of foil rabbit ear antennas and drawers full of liquid paper to correct the endless number of typos that littered my editorial efforts. I also like having fingertip access to answers and research that took much time and effort in decades long past. What I abhor is the idea that everything has to be automated.

I suppose that I am old school and I do understand the philosophy behind remote control voting for public officials. For bodies that have large numbers it is an absolute time saver and for those that are inclined to be influenced by the vote of others it encourages independent thinking. But, and this is a big but, technology is only as good as the user and the situation that it is being used. Recently the County Commission began remote voting, meaning they vote by remote control and their vote is shown at the same time all other commissioner’s votes are shown. At first, I had no real reservations about the new system but after seeing it at work for a couple of meetings I am not a fan.

The new system seriously cuts down on the connection between the representatives and the audience. With only 21 seated on the Commission it is not that time consuming to do a roll call vote when the raising of the hands won’t suffice. You would be surprised at what you can learn by hearing the tone of a politician’s voice when they vote. One would think that after seeing what a voiceless upbringing has done to our younger generation in the way they communicate, we would have learned a thing or two about the need to hear each other speak. Instead, we have removed the most basic communication from what should be the most open communication forum. As for independent voting, those that believe that votes are not solicited and counted before the drop of the gavel should look into buying some oceanfront property in Knoxville. I hear it is going cheap. But really, pack voting is as old as the political system and no amount of technology is going to break up the herd.

Do I want quick meetings? What I want are efficient meetings. I want to walk away knowing that my representatives were not so intimidated by the process that they ( and I) lost my voice. Unlike the most recent County Commission meeting, I want to know what the vote is and have time to digest it before it magically disappears from the screen. A picture is worth a thousand words and so it the intonation of the spoken word. A yes is not just a yes and a no is not just a no. One word can speak volumes about the motivation of the speaker. Emojies exist for a reason. They are a poor attempt to convey emotions that are missing when we remote communicate.

I am all for progress but not every procedure and policy is broken. Some have worked more than fine for a multitude of years. Just like not every boat is sea worthy, not every idea holds water. Smart thinking says we use technology to improve our way of life, not replace it. Nobody is missing the foil ear rabbit antennas and most have a general affection for fingertip access to information. But, when a politician is speaking for me, I would really like to hear his or her voice.