An Internet-less Tuesday can make you think
Mike Brown

I n Bill Cosby’s classic “Noah” routine a few details were revealed that somehow escaped getting put into Genesis chapters six through nine.

Such as how the duration of the rainstorm which destroyed all life on earth, save those beings huddled on the ark, was determined.

According to the Book of Cosby, God had originally intended for the rain to last 1,000 days and 1,000 nights.

But he apparently took the suggestion of Cosby’s Noah, which was: “Why don’t you just have it rain 40 days and 40 nights and let the sewers back up?”

That concept flashed into my mind on Tuesday in a different context.

Several times over the years I’ve heard Reporter Publisher Emeritus Bill Cooke remark: “A nation that wants to destroy the United States won’t need an Army. They just have to jam the Internet for a few days. We’ll collapse.”

Art by Alexandria Ferguson, a senior at Rockdale High School. Art by Alexandria Ferguson, a senior at Rockdale High School. What brought that thought to the forefront was pretty obvious. We were without it here at The Reporter for pretty close to seven hours last Tuesday.

Now, Tuesday is deadline day. Unless you’ve worked on a publication, or been married to someone who works on a publication— hi, honey—you really can’t understand what deadline day is.

This is the simplest way to explain it. I’ve been assured by seven different theologians that heaven will contain no Tuesdays and the other place, like the movie “Groundhog Day,” will be the same Tuesday over and over.

So when our Internet and e-mail went out, it was panic time.

We were unable to instantaneously receive news and photos on which we had counted, have a “one-click” resource to aid in writing stories, grab needed “mug shots” off Facebook pages, send pages to the printer’s 65 miles away (this is kind of important when you’re a newspaper), dialogue immediately with our advertisers (this is reaalllllly important when you’re a newspaper) and a thousand other things.

In other words, we were back doing it like we used to.

Hmm. Well, didn’t we used to get the newspaper out before we had all these marvels?

Indeed we did and we have every week since 1873. And we got it out last Tuesday, too. Our staff is the best and they coped.

Perhaps we need Netless Tuesdays every once in while in our lives to remind us just how much the processes we all use have improved in what’s relatively a short amount of time.

Do you ever, like me, watch old movies or television shows and suddenly marvel at how their/ our “every day” actions were so different? And wonder why their phones have cords and their cars don’t have seat belts. Why their cameras need film and their offices don’t have monitors. Why they use carbon paper but don’t text. Why their cops have to be in their patrol cars to communicate.

Why their clergy and doctors and teachers are respected.

Why everybody is always smoking.

Okay, those last ones are sociology, not technology.

But the question is, have we become less vulnerable or more vulnerable with all our modern technology?

Like most things the answer is probably more gray than black or white.

There’s another quote, from a famous play called “Inherit the Wind,” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, which long ago addressed the same conundrum circa 1925:

“Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline’.”

And so it is with us.

We can talk to anyone, anywhere. But do we have anything to say to each other?

We can buy something with a click of a mouse. But a local store closes for lack of business.

We can communicate with people we like in China and Zanzibar. But we don’t know the name of the lonely elderly widow two doors down from our house.

Oh, I got a text. Bye!

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2013-11-07 digital edition

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