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News Project / University of Montana School of Journalism
Technology distraction – a dinosaur perspective
A Cheyenne Voice
By Clara Caufield
Everyone who reads this column will realize that I am a dinosaur from an older “pre-cell phone era” and like it that way.
But, I recently and reluctantly bought one at the urging of my cell-phone era children and other relatives who worry when they cannot get in contact with me, often for days when I take my monthly break from the Rez. Because of my work, I am too often chained to the phone and computer, welcoming a break from such distraction when I leave home.
But, I do like one feature – games which encourage much waste of time. I was recently impressed by the eye and hand coordination required by many of the “jumping” games, by an eight year old who demonstrated such skill to me, spending hours doing that while we made the bi-weekly trip to Miles City to pick up the latest issue of A Cheyenne Voice. That child found my lack of ability to play such games unbelievable. “It’s easy,” he reassured me. “Just practice.”
Thanks, but no thanks.
Until recently, there was no pressing need to have such a gadget on the Northern Cheyenne reservation, because we have not previously had cell phone service. The tribal council found that cell phone service was a priority to many tribal members, especially the younger generation and must be commended for finally allowing them to join the contemporary cell phone age. Until this year, we were otherwise hostage to the old phone service where the phone rings, you pick up the phone and hold it to your ear to engage in conversation. If not, there is the option of leaving a message, phone calls which I normally return unless it is a bill collector.
But, since I often venture off the reservation, my kids suggested that a cell phone would be a safety measure should I run out of gas or break down, “old green,” my trusty old truck, likely to do that (which she actually did not too long ago).
As I write, looking out the back window of my rural cabin in Busby, a large cell phone tower looms in the distance, located in very remote area, literally bringing technology into my back yard, where no one else but me has to see it. Personally, I don’t like that, as it mars a perfect view of where Custer and the 7th Calvary camped the night before the Battle of the Little Big Horn, i.e. “Custer’s Last Camp.” If he had had such technology, perhaps he could have called to check on the status of Indians before moving on to destiny, smoke signals then being a little “iffy.”
Perhaps that is progress. Thus, many of my friends and relatives, even my 67 year old cousin, have welcomed such technology, cell phone and tablet communication which is seemingly more fascinating than personal conversation. She recently got a “tablet” allowing her to keep up on the daily gossip from CheyenneNation.com.
“That is how I find out the news, including who has had what for breakfast and, more important, who has died,” she recently joked, while momentarily pulling her nose off that gadget, only because it had to be hooked in and recharged.
I often visit her, many times sleeping on the couch in her living room, waking at an early hour to dine upon her lavish and delicious breakfasts. Used to be, we wiled away the late night or early morning hours by playing cribbage. No more, because she must ever check for email messages from grandchildren, also addicted to modern technology.
While she still cooks breakfast, those hours are no longer devoted to conversation, as she usually has her nose and eyes glued to the “tablet," occasionally sharing a funny video or post. When I try to get in between her and the “tablet," she most often says “Wait a minute, I’m watching something.” Yet if I were to “text” her, there would be an immediate response.
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(Clara Caufield can be reached at: email@example.com)
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