Matt Towery

Yeah, I know. This looks like another "I'm thankful at Thanksgiving" column. Well, it is and it isn't.

What I'm most thankful for is that I grew up in a time when there were no cell phones or emails. Until I was a teen, there were hardly any cable TV channels, either. And yes, airing these thoughts conjures up similar talk from my own father, back when he talked about listening to radio programs when he was a kid. I often wondered why that made his youth better than mine. Now I know.

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I suppose the nation's uptick in advanced technology is good in that it opens doors to increased economic productivity, and often connects us to other people when otherwise we'd be all alone. But there's also a downside that we're now witnessing in both our culture and our politics.

During the '60s and '70s, TV already had become the "boob tube" that turned many of us into couch potatoes. There were only three networks, though, plus a handful of independent stations and also transistor radios.

If you wanted to talk on a phone, you had to do it at home. Then you had to hope the person you were calling wasn't already on their line, in which case you'd get that annoying "busy" signal. That meant your friend or family member was engaged in -- believe it or not -- an uninterrupted, person-to-person conversation with somebody. Nowadays, there are so many innovative ways to interrupt us that I won't bother to list them.

And when you aren't blabbering today by electronic devices with friends, you're probably surfing among more TV channels that you can count, much less watch. Yet with so many choices, many of us end up watching yesteryear's reruns. Go figure.

All this clutter has done more than just fragment our social interactions. It may have started to condition us to be more easily controlled by outside, institutional forces, such as government. Most kids today rarely touch a newspaper or watch TV news.

With exceptions, of course, there are now too many young and even middle-age Americans that absorb important information about the world from various uncoordinated sources that, together, offer a viewpoint that is abbreviated and jumbled. Life starts to look like a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces that no one is bothering to assemble into a coherent picture.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery