In a highly fictional past, at an uncertain location on earth (as depicted in the movie Quest for Fire):Naoh has been sent to find fire. He succeeds, but upon his return the flame extinguishes before he can hand it over to his tribe.
They are crushed.
Then Naoh announces (translation) “I can make fire!”
The tribe stares at him like he’s crazy.
May 2014, at the NK’MIP campground in Osoyoos BC:My sister Mary and I, and our twenty-something niece Tamara, are hanging out at the trailer. Mary has pictures on her phone that we want to send, but there’s no Wi-Fi.
We are crushed.
Then Tamara gets out her phone and announces “I can make Wi-Fi!”
Mary and I stare at her like she’s crazy.
Between one epoch and the other, some technology happened. The consequence is that we went from wanting a constant supply of warmth to wanting a constant supply of communication.
A lack of warmth and communication came together one cold summer day somewhere on a northern Nova Scotia road in 1973. The technology that my group needed was a Star Trek-style communicator so that we could contact our place of safety and demand that it yank us from our trouble. In this day and age we call that a cell phone. Back then, we had to settle for a telephone at a Bible camp.
My group consisted of me and my two older siblings, and a neighbour boy from our relatives’ Tidnish cottage. We were on bicycles. Our trouble was the cold, wet day, and the fact that we couldn’t find our parents and younger sister. We had all set out on bicycles together from Tidnish for an overnight expedition to Pugwash. But the four of us were faster than the others, and we arrived at the fork in the road sooner. Young, sure of ourselves, and impatient, we struck off on what we knew to be the correct road. My parents and sister clearly took the incorrect road. Nevertheless, they found the Pugwash campground and we didn’t.
When my tired group saw the Bible camp, we hoped it was our destination. It wasn’t. But the kind people there let us use the office phone to call the Tidnish cottage, which my parents had already phoned from the Pugwash campground…and the cottage phoned my parents who called the Bible camp who told us to wait there. That’s how it was done in those days. My Dad bicycled over to get us, and showed us the way.
Since ages past, the technology was there for my parents to make a fire and warm their soggy group of deflated teenagers. But what they really needed was the ability to make Wi-Fi ─ and gleefully send a picture of us to the relatives at the cottage so that they could laugh at us. Sometimes advanced technology comes with its own consequences.