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Exiting the Information Superhighway

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by Joan Stack
In the past twenty years, I’ve spent a little more time in foreign countries than many other Americans. At least, the three passports I’ve run through in that time lead me to believe that is the case. One of the things I’ve tried to learn is to disengage the “evaluate” button in my brain, to refrain from judging anything different as deficient or wrong. As a result, I’d like to think I don’t prejudge people or cultures. Despite this, I did rush to judgment about the small town of Cagli in that I expected the people to be experiencing technological change – high-speed, real-time, incessantly pushing out the boundaries to encompass the globe –just the way the rest of the world seems to be doing. That is not the case.

I’ve learned from a few days, and numerous conversations with local people in different age groups, that they have a “take it or leave it” approach to change. Some they take – cell phones, designer sunglasses, and sports cars, for example. Other new technology they leave, or at at perhaps elect to accept at a pace that works for them. There is internet service in some places but only a few Cagliese are happy to have it on the piazza and even fewer seem to use it; none I’ve seen in the past five days. Local people can think of no one who uses technology to work virtually and get to live in Cagli as a result. I haven’t seen one teenager texting as they walk through town, or heard anyone mention Facebook or Twitter, not even when the discussion turns to new technology. My Kindle doesm’t work here, nor in Rome as it happens, so I didn’t even go there. The assumption that technology is “transforming lives” is clearly not true here – an interesting and fascinating thing to learn about what I consider a modern, Western European country. I stand corrected.


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