This I Believe

Luke - Zephyr Cove, Nevada
Entered on December 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death

The Death of Our Elderly

I believe computers and technology are killing and isolating our elders from society. I remember the good old days of stopping by the library and saying hello to the town’s sweet little old lady librarian, Martha. She was always there to help youngsters with the Dewy Decimal System, recommend a good read, and generally help anyone with anything. But now, she’s dead. Everyone said it was coming because she was in her late 70’s and had been a smoker her whole life, but I know the truth. It was the damn computers. People had no need to stop by the library.

“Screw the Dewy Decimal System,” people would say. “I don’t need no stinkin’ librarian, I got dial up.”

Poor old Martha knew the horrible things people were saying about the community library. No one would ever come to visit her. She got bored, so bored that it killed her. And the sad thing was that she wasn’t even found until three days later. Her lifeless body wrapped in a light pink button up cardigan, dead in the Civil War section, with her bi-focals still placed at the edge of her nose. Three days not a single soul went to the library. Instead, the town’s people sat in the comforts of their home, sipping their Starbucks extra soy double latte, downloading Bon Jovi, while sending an E-mail to their cousin in Burbank and reading an on-line version of the Iliad at

What a world this has become. Librarians are dropping like bowling balls at a five year olds birthday party.

Then there’s Sam. Sam the post man isn’t dead, just retired, and forgotten.

“No one stopped by to see me anymore,” said Sam with a tear in his eye. “There’s no need for a post man anymore. All them kids with their hotmail and instant messages. Not to mention getting stuff from that Amazon cite sent straight to their house. And some little shit had the nerve to tell me I work with ‘snail mail.’ I couldn’t handle it anymore, so after 28 years of delivering the mail, I up and left thanks to the internet. All I dealt with were bills and junk mail regarding sales on spandex.”

Sam now spends his days tending to his garden and watching re-runs of Colombo. No one ever comes by to see him. His son installed a brand new desktop computer he ordered from Dell to keep in touch. The computer is designed specifically for someone weak and technologically fragile like Sam.

“I’m afraid of the futuristic atomic bomb lying in my den,” says Sam, wide eyed peering behind me towards the den area of his duplex. “I hate that thing. All it does is says I got mail. ‘Bullshit’ I tell it. Every time it tells me I got mail, I put on my robe and walk to the end of my driveway and check the mailbox. Nothing! Not even a flaming bag of shit left from one of the neighborhood punks.”

Sam’s computer not only drove him to an early retirement, it also drove him to the verge of insanity.

What next? We need the Martha’s and the Sam’s of the world to unite and take back their positions in the community. It’s only a matter of time before another one of our fondest elders drops like the water level of the community pool when Big Harold decides to attempt a cannonball from the high dive. Or another elder is isolated from their family like a hooker at Sunday church service. I can’t hug a computer, but I could hug Martha. I can’t smile at a keyboard and get one in return. There’s no computer that smiles at me like Sam use to. Who’s next to go?