Thursday, March 15, 2007

Complications of the Wired Life

I had been frustrated for the last few years at having to pay four different bills for related services: we had different providers for local phone service (Verizon), long distance phone service (Sprint), cable television and Internet service (Cox Communications), and cellular phone service (Cingular). Seeking to simplify my life a bit, I looked into consolidating the four services with one provider, and ended up settling on Verizon because they offered the largest total savings per month. The only service I haven't changed over yet is my cell phone, but only because our contract isn't up until October of this year, and the financial penalties for breaking the contract are severe.

So, I'm saving money and paying only one bill instead of three. That's good. On the other hand, I have come to realize just how many people and businesses have to be notified that we have changed our e-mail address. The number is huge, and many of the business accounts can only be changed when we log into their secure websites...which means I have to remember the logins and passwords for a slew of sites I don't visit very often. For a fifty-five year old guy who most days feels like eighty-five, this is no trivial task.

All of our wonderful modern benefits we enjoy come with a cost, in money or time or complications of one sort or another. I'm reminded of a scene from the wonderful play "Inherit the Wind," written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The play depicts the clash between lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan during the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. At one point, the Clarence Darrow character says to the jury,

"Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You've got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there's a man behind the counter who says, 'All right, you can have a telephone, but you'll have to give up privacy, the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote, but at a price; you lose the right to retreat behind a powder-puff or a petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air, but the birds will lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline.'"

Well, the birds have never lost their wonder for me, and the clouds are still as beautiful, but the jury is still out on the telephone...particularly the cell phone, which I view as a necessary evil, but a major nuisance.

I've traded convenience and monetary savings for the complication of figuring out whether I've remembered to tell everyone who needs to know that my e-mail address is different. It's a trade I'm willing to make...although I've lost the goodwill of the people at Cox and Sprint who no longer enjoy receiving my checks each month.

But I guess they'll get over it.

Have a good day. Try to avoid unnecessary complication in your life. You'll live longer and enjoy each day more.

More thoughts tomorrow.


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