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OPINION

Being Forced to Use Trackable Technology

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Jae C. Hong

I should have seen it coming, but I'm still flabbergasted. I registered online to attend the U.S. men's college soccer championship in Cary, North Carolina. As part of the entrance procedure, I had to bring my cellphone, which contained the registration barcode. Joining me were all 4,000 other people in attendance who had to arrive with a cell phone.                    

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Personally, I find this requirement offensive and intrusive, and I’m not a Luddite, honest to goodness. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Luddites look upon the intrusion of technology in everyday life with disdain. They represent those who would prefer to have society return to an era in which technology was not so intrusive.  

I understand why sporting event hosts want to reduce paper handling and speed up the entry lines. However, I didn’t want my cell phone at this sporting event. I wanted to be able to watch, cheer, clap, and not be concerned with some extra, weighty item in my pocket.

The Swiss Army Pocket Knife

Many fans routinely want to take pictures during the game or have their phones with them for umpteen reasons. Fair enough. What about people who don't necessarily want to take pictures or field calls or wish to have their phone with them at all?

To me, the presumption or the unannounced edict that everybody attending needs to bring a cell phone and has to show their ticket barcode on their phone goes too far.

What harm accrues to merely printing one's ticket with the barcode and showing it to the gatekeeper/ticket taker? A hand-held scanner can read the barcode on a page or a cellphone screen, and it's no extra work for anyone.

On the Horizon

In what other ways will we be forced to adopt technology? Will wristwatch barcodes be required at events so that even phones are outmoded? Will you need a chip implanted in your wrist, ear, or ankle to be marked accordingly?

Some have postulated that the Biden Administration wants a cashless society so that the government can trace every single transaction conducted by every resident in America forevermore. This has been debunked for now, but the Biden Administration is looking into a federal digital currency.

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One cannot deny the awesome power of online technologies, but keeping things in balance is vital. Driven by our various obsessions, Bill Henderson, leader of the Lead Pencil Club, said more than 25 years ago, “We've embraced the electronic god with a frenzy." 

"Soon, blessed with the facts, voice, and email, computer hook-ups, and TVs with hundreds of channels, we won't have to leave our lonely rooms – not to write a check, work, visit, shop, exercise, or make love. We will have raced at incredible speeds to reach our final destination – nothing."

Perhaps he was a little emphatic, but take stock of your career and life. Have you been caught in the trap of over-relying on technology? If your phone’s GPS app is down, can you drive across town without it?

Technology Traps

Technology holds the potential to help us but also further slide into the morass of over-dependency. In Technopoly, the late Dr. Neil Postman wrote that introducing new technology offers both benefits and detriments. The dealers and manufacturers are adept at highlighting the benefits. How often do you read about the downside of acquiring new tools and technology?  

What undesirable aspects emerge as you employ your cell phone and increasingly are forced to use it? The ability of anyone to reach you at any time?   Disturbance of one of the last sanctuaries that you had? The potential for driving less safely? Making one extra call or one dangerous text before reaching destinations – to ensure that plans haven't changed? The annoying feeling that your system is insufficient?

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It seems paradoxical that a device created to make you more effective and secure holds equal potential for doing the opposite.

The Revenge Effect

"The Revenge Effect is the curious way the world has of getting even, defeating our best efforts to speed it up and otherwise improve it," says emeritus Professor Edward Tenner. 

Is forcing sports fans to carry a cell phone a social or cultural improvement? Does having a government that can track your every move as a result of your cash-free payments good for democracy?

Pardon me, but I will continue using greenbacks for as long as possible, and I'll use credit cards when convenient. For many reasons, however, I eschew being forced to adopt a digital currency. 

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