Miranda Lambert has a new song out called “Automatic.”
She reminisces about pay phones, drying laundry on the line, cassette tapes, hand-crank car windows, and mailing letters, among other things, and then she reaches the chorus, in which she laments:
Hey, whatever happened to waitin’ your turn
Doing it all by hand,
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s only worth as much as the time put in
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic
Now, look. I’m a notorious late adopter. I’ll poo-poo a new trend for weeks, months, or even years, until all of a sudden I one day HAVE TO HAVE IT. And I’ve been known to express wariness over changes to things I’ve always liked. And yet, I have such a strong reaction to this song.
Why do we idealize the times when we had to do everything by hand? What’s so wrong with automatic? At its best, technology makes our lives easier and frees up time for us to focus on the things that are important to us. It makes communication a breeze, it makes doing research faster, and it makes the whole world our oyster. Sure, people abuse it. We’ve all been guilty of staring at our phones when we’re eating dinner with our friends or even our family. But let’s have a conversation about using technology well, rather than one about the happy golden days of yore.
Yore is gone. Technology is here to stay, and is going to keep evolving. And I’m not sure automatic is such a bad thing.