A fast-paced, electronic age
here’s deadly irony in two otherwise unrelated events in past days in the Maritimes. In a whimsical ceremony at a Halifax church last Sunday, the pastor blessed electronic gadgets of parishioners. Items such as cellphones, laptops and GPS units were held up as the minister offered the blessing.
It was a twist on an old English tradition called Plough Monday in which farmers would drag tools to the church’s door to receive a blessing for a good harvest.
On the same weekend, tragically, a young man lost his life in a traffic crash in New Brunswick when the vehicle he was driving hit a rock wall. Police believe he was texting on his cellphone when this occurred.
The blessing is a light-hearted illustration of just how indispensable these articles are for people in everyday life - to the point of compulsion. It’s difficult not to answer a message, or at least check it. In some cases, it can be tempting to respond immediately, even when that might be hazardous.
A number of provinces - including neighbouring Nova Scotia - have laws in place regarding cellphone use by people driving automobiles. The laws are there for a good reason, but many question whether they go far enough. While it’s illegal for a driver to talk on a hand-held phone, the law doesn’t target other electronic items.
We would hope common sense would be the deciding factor, but unfortunately in some cases it isn’t.
And on still another somewhat related topic: universities in Canada are offering workshops, seminars and tipsheets on etiquette for social media, such as Facebook, to new students. It’s frosh week, a time to get to know new people and the campus - and have some fun. But these university tips are a reminder that an infamous photo can live on the Internet indefinitely. So can an ill-considered comment. One university describes such postings as a “digital tattoo.”
We live in a different, very electronic age. Only if judicious consideration keeps pace with it is it really to the individual’s benefit.