The joys of modern technology

I can’t imagine trying to navigate the past eight months without the benefits of modern technology.

I’ve railed about the over-reliance on technology on many occasions in the past, for everything from an over-reliance on online shopping, to those who spend way too much time on social media, to those who insist on using text messages and social media to express frustration to someone. (I feel the same way about those who apologize over social media).

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And make no mistake about it: technology has been a source of frustration on many occasions since the first case of COVID-19 diagnosed in Saskatchewan more than eight months ago. It has created a platform for those with some dangerous opinions, and those platforms become even more frightening when you consider there are those who will believe anything when it fits their agenda. 

But technology has allowed things to proceed that would have been cancelled otherwise.

Last Wednesday was a perfect example. Remembrance Day services were able to happen in Estevan and other communities through the use of technology. Legion branches live-streamed their services through Facebook and other platforms. 

The legion in Estevan still had many of the aspects traditionally associated with a service. I’m sure it was the same story with other communities. 

But at least those who couldn’t be there could still sit down in front of their computer (or in front of their TV in Estevan if they have Access Now) and enjoy the ceremony. A few months ago, many expected the Remembrance Day service would have to be cancelled.

I’ve been to the Remembrance Day service in Estevan every year since I’ve been here. Yes, part of it is due to work, but both my grandparents served Canada in the Second World War, and I’ve had other family members and friends who have served their country, so I would have been at the service each year.

Even if I couldn’t have been at this year’s service, I would have watched it online.

Yes, it was very different from what we’ve had in the past, but it was still a special day.  

(As an aside, for those who want to have an outdoor Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph in downtown Estevan, this year’s service was an example as to why it should stay indoors. Granted, it’s not going to be around -10 C with a breeze on Nov. 11 each year, but we don’t have to worry about the weather when it’s indoors).

The Remembrance Day service isn’t the only event that could happen through modern technology. The United Way Estevan’s telethon last month featured plenty of entertainment courtesy of talented singers, dancers and instrumentalists who submitted videos. Former Estevan residents submitted videos, enabling them to be part of the broadcast. 

Given the amount of money that the United Way raises through the telethon for its member agencies, it’s such an essential part of our community. And given the needs those member agencies are facing during a pandemic, the telethon importance might have been greater than ever.

Without the modern technology and the capability to blend live performances and pre-recorded entertainment, it would have been difficult for the show to happen, and those member agencies and community partners – and all of the people they support – would have suffered.

Modern technology has allowed for council meetings and non-profit board sessions and business gatherings to proceed during the pandemic. It has allowed people to work from home and still get the job done. Most people now have jobs that can now easily translate from the office to the home. Working from home isn’t possible for all, but it can happen for many.

Modern technology allowed for retail outlets and restaurants, classified by the government as non-essential, to switch to online shopping and online ordering, so they can stay somewhat open and keep some of their employees.

And it’s allowed for the rise for such entertaining concepts as the Cheap Seats podcast, with four local sports fans discussing what’s happening (or not happening) in the sports world. Over the last eight months, we’ve needed as many sources of entertainment as possible. 

It allows organizations to get actual news out to the public quickly, to let them know that something important has occurred.  

Yes, technology isn’t without its downside or its reason for frustration. It can aggravate. It empowers and provides a platform to the conspiracy theory crowd.

But over the past eight months, it’s been beneficial far more often than it’s been a liability.  

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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