Downsides of Technology

Orrin Higgins, Interviewed by Noah Levinson, November 17, 2014
Location of Interview: Hartwick, New York

Orrin Higgins was born in 1940 in Hunter, New York. He worked in law enforcement for more than twenty years. Higgins was a state trooper, a judge, and the town justice of Hartwick, New York. In this story, he talks about his moral issues with learning to adapt to new technology.
OH: And I know all the high technology has a lot of advantages, especially in the field of medicine and all that type of stuff and as far as emergency calls: police, fire, it’s a great thing. But I see it as a day-to-day thing where people just walk down the sidewalk and they got a cell phone to their ear, and it’s a wonder they know where they’re going.
I know I have a grandson that came from Washington, state of Washington, and we were driving somewhere, and he’s in the seat there with his iPod, or whatever it is, his tablet there, and he could have been back home in his backyard for all he was taking in and acknowledging and when I said something to him about, you know, “Look at the environment, look at the farms, look at the animals in the field, look at this,” he just didn’t have any interest, and when you travel 3,000 miles to an area that’s unfamiliar I would think that you would want to take in your environment, to take in where you are.
Technology has made the world smaller, it’s drawn the people closer together in a lot of ways, such as your demonstrations in some countries. They’re more up on what’s going on and things, and as I say I realize that, and that’s a positive aspect of it. But as I say, it seems to have a negative aspect also to go along with it, and that’s what troubles me is that they seem to be unaware and unconscious of the present. I grew up right after the Second World War. We grew up poor and we were very lucky, I guess, to eventually have a TV in the home, and that made quite a change for us all, just having a television in the home. And there again, it led to more couch potato type of existence in some ways because we weren’t out on the street playing Kick the Can or Hide and Seek and on the street. We were in there watching Tom Mix or Roy Rogers or Lassie or some of those other shows at the time.
So that was, as I say, I guess that was a change for us, that was the beginning of the electronic, technical world, but, other than that, it was a slower pace, I guess, the changes were slower paced. It didn’t seem like we had big changes within five years like we have now.
It seems like every five years or whatever everything has changed. I guess, I’m at the age, I kind of want to stay in the twentieth century and yet I see all these changes around me and I just sit back and just say to myself, “Well, I wish you luck, I hope it all works out for ya.” [chuckle] I know there’s nice, wonderful, positive benefits to a lot of this, but, as I say, I also see the other side which is probably because I’m older and getting older all the time, and the changes become more and more difficult I guess.
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