One step forward, two steps back

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

As much as I complain about advances in technology, there really is a lot of good that comes from it. I can't really imagine living without electricity or running water. But even as far as we've come with innovations, I can't help but think big corporations and the economy are holding us back from some of the helpful advances which would otherwise be available on the market.

I recently spoke with a 70-year-old man who lived his life not knowing his uncle, brothers or sisters. Not only was he able to find and talk with them via internet, but he was also able to meet them for the first time. He said he would probably have never met them if it weren't for the information superhighway on his computer.

The man was on the brink of tears, because he was so happy. He especially started to get choked up when he mentioned one of the gifts one of his brothers had made for him, which was a Swiss Army watch with the family name engraved on the back. He was also amazed to know his uncle bore a striking resemblance to himself.

There are countless others who have found lost family members or loved ones because of the internet, but even with those heartwarming stories there is a grim truth to realize. For starters, some people abuse the internet for organizations involved with hate crimes, most of which are comprised of bored people with too much time on their hands. Remember Columbine? I know it's true that you can't have good without bad, but there needs to be better ways to restrict what goes on the internet. The problem is: how can we regulate the material? The internet is already too large for the government to control.

Another major problem with advances in technology is the fact big businesses, including the oil companies are holding us back from a safer environment. We have the means right now for safer and more efficient means of transportation, i.e.. electric cars, but the US market is not embracing them because it would hurt the multi-billion dollar oil companies. I am guilty of driving a gas-guzzling SUV, but my options aren't much better at this point. I could drive a gas-guzzling car or a gas-guzzling truck. I would really like an electric or solar-powered car, but it seems the oil companies are keeping them from being produced for now.

An advance which seems to have only hurt us is chemical warfare. In my hometown of Anniston, hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons containing deadly chemicals - to the environment and humans - are currently being burned. The Army has to destroy them, because the weapons have begun to leak. Residents of Anniston and the surrounding communities of Saks and Oxford can only wait and hope to not get ventilation poison from the smoke.

Weapons of mass destruction, which have yet to be found in Iraq, are the least of the worries plaguing residents of the Anniston area.

So, with every step we take towards a better society there will always be something tying us down. Some interests, or a group of interests, will keep us from our full potential, whether governmental or corporate. In the end, we take two steps backwards.