Technology Making Us Intimate Strangers? 

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Technology Making Us Intimate Strangers?

Cell phones and beepers keep us in touch, but they also keep us away from the best of ourselves and others.

Every day when I walk out of my house I feel surrounded. Surrounded by people so loaded down with the latest equipment that any military commander would be envious. Cell phones, beepers, headsets, watches that both tell time and give good e-mail - devices that allow you to keep up and keep track and that keep you tethered to the daily grind. America is on the move, utterly self-absorbed, multi-tasking, busy, busy, busy.

So what's the matter with me, daring to go about the streets without any of these things, a dinosaur out of step with the times? Frankly, I worry about the freedom we give up, the time to think and reflect, the time to consider where we've been in order to see where we are - or want to be - going. For many people these are painful things they don't necessarily want to dwell on. Self-reflection is far different - and far more difficult - than self-absorption, but the pain that self-absorption can inflict on others is acute.

Last summer, on as lovely an evening as one can hope for in central Virginia, I was at my daughter's tennis practice. Standing next to me was a father more intent on the cell-phone conversation he was having (which did not sound terribly pressing) than on watching his daughter play. Time and again, she would lock toward him, craving for his attention, but he never saw her.


Now some confessions are in order. I've had e-mail only for a little more than a year, and I worry that I'm starting to become obsessed with it. In the intoxicating game of popularity that we all play, e-mail has presented another way for others to reach out to us. If someone hasn't left us a phone message or a fax, there is always the chance that an e-mail awaits. I can't even finish this essay without checking - three times already - to see if another one came through. I have also checked my stocks and a favorite Web site - all because they are there. I am not proud of the fact that when I read to my 6-year old daughter at night, I sometimes reach for the phone when it rings, only to have her admonish me - «Daddy, don't!» - a sharp rebuke for being so quick to interrupt our sacred time together.

Do you remember when you and your friends would go to the beach to swim and sun and take leave of your lives for an afternoon or longer. These days, I go to the beach and see teenagers come out of the water and instantly get on their cell phones. They can't imagine a life without a cell phone, and they can't imagine coming to the beach without it.

Nonetheless, I still say: why not step back and view all this progress from a different angle? Instead of trying to figure out way to do a hundred things at once, why not slow things down? After all, the greatest gift you can offer another person, is your ability to listen, to let that person feel that you are intent on what he or she is saying, that you have all the time in the world. (The individuals I know who can do that are few, but they stand out conspicuously in my mind.) Through interviewing people I write about, I have come to learn how much people want to be understood, how much they want and need to be able to explain themselves.

Technology, for the most part, creates the illusion of intimacy. As marvelous as it can be, it also foils us. It keeps us from the best of ourselves and enables us to avoid others. It makes us into intimate strangers.

To me, the most splendid thing about a place like New York City, where I lived for a long time, is that you can walk the streets day after day, year after year, and always see something new, something that will astonish or touch you. It may be a detail on a building, or the way the light hits the magnificent public library at a particular time. But if you're not open to these things, if you're too busy walking down the street glued to your phone and don't nof ice things around you, you're going to miss something. It may seem intangible and, therefore, unimportant, but those something have a way of adding up.

Запитання для диспуту:

1. Is here a particular machine or form of technology that you?

2. Do you think technology than do females?

3. If you could keep only one machine, which one would it be?

4. In general, are you a gadget-lover or a gadget-hater?


A gloomy picture

The environment is everything that surrounds and affects the character and growth of living things. When talking about environmental problems, ecological issues cannot be separated from their effect on mankind, nor can human actions be separated from their effect on the ecology. The condition of life, our daily actions, and the state of the global environment are interdependent, yet often this interdependence is overlooked.

What follows is a summary of the environmental issues.

Population Explosion

Today the planet holds more than 6 billion people. Global population has doubled in the last 40 years and is expected to double again by 2050, with 90 percent of that increase occurring in developing countries.

African nations are expanding at the fastest rate. In the year 2000, Africa will have 900 million people: with an annual population growth of 3 percent. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, will soar from 112 million to 274 million. China, now the most populous country in the world with 1.2 billion people, will retain the lead with a population expected to reach over 1.5 billion by the year 2050.


Despite claims that there is less famine in the world today; over 150 million children go to bed hungry every night. According to a United Nations report, 37 percent of people in India cannot buy enough food to feed their families, and in the Horn of Africa, it is estimated that more than 20 million people, mostly women and children are at risk of starving.

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization reports that there are more than 786 million underfed people in developing nations. But the developing countries are not alone. The United States is not exempt. Due to, the recession and structural changes in the economy, a record number million

people, or 10 percent of Americans, were dependent on food stamps

In 1992, over half were families with children under the age of 5.

We are looking at one-quarter of the globe plagued hunger

and lacking the most basic needs in life.

The United States is not exempt. Due to the recession and structural changes in the economy, a record number of 23 million people, or 10 percent of Americans, were dependent on food stamps in 1992; over half were families with children under the age of 5. We are looking at one-quarter of the globe plagued with hunger and lacking the most basic needs in life.


For many people, the most alarming of all human assaults on the environment is the contamination of air, earth, and water from dumping. Evidence of dumping can be found everywhere, done by individuals and large corporations alike. Hong Kong dumps more than 1,000 tons of plastic a day. Americans throw away 16 billion disposable diapers each year. Open sewage drains and festering landfills are common sites in many parts of the world.

In a small Malaysian village, babies are born deformed and children die of rare illnesses, which their doctors claim are caused by exposure to radiation from a multinational company that set up business in this small community.

Creatures of the sea are also vulnerable to pollutants that enter the rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world. Over half of the world's population lives along coastlines that are being increasingly polluted by sewage, industrial waste water, and runoff from cities and farms. Half of the fish in these areas polluted by toxic chemicals fail to spawn, and many die. Those that are fished may pass on high levels of cancer-causing chemicals to the consumer. It appears that humans are polluting at the expense of their own lives.


The rapid reduction of forest land around the globe appears on every list of critical environmental issues. Its effects are of importance to all living things. Forests absorb carbon dioxide from the air and supply oxygen. They are home to fragile plants and fascinating creatures, and they have provided people with fuel, food, and shelter for centuries. But with the growth in human population, forests have been converted into farms, commercial enterprises, and industrial developments.

It is estimated that every year 6.3 million hectares of tropical forest alone are cleared for agriculture and that 4.4 million hectares are used in commercial logging. This involves big corporations buying large chunks of forest in order to fell and export timber to Europe, Japan, and North America. One-tenth of all the timber for this market comes from tropical forests from such countries as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.


Biological diversity - the variety among living organisms and their habitats - is more threatened now than at any time in the past. Tropical deforestation is the main reason behind this crisis, but the destruction of temperate forests and the pollution of rivers, lakes, and oceans also plays an important role.

The total number of species is not known. Biologists estimate that there are between 5 and 30 million species, many of them insects, tiny sea creatures and lesser known plants and animals. As these species become extinct, they in turn take with them more of nature's wealth. The removal of a single species, no matter how tiny, can set off a chain reaction affecting many others. It has been estimated, for example, that a disappearing plant can take with it up to 30 other species, including insects, higher animals, and even other plants. Each species, no matter how small or obscure, plays an essential role in maintaining the balance of nature.

Global Warming

Human activity is altering the composition of the atmosphere in ways that could bring rapid changes in climate. Although naturally occurring greenhouse gases keep the Earth's surface warm by trapping infrared radiation given off by the sun, human activity is increasing the concentration of these gases, as well as adding new, more dangerous chemicals to the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, has increased in the atmosphere over the past four decades from the burning of fossil fuels and, more recently, from deforestation. Carbon dioxide is pouring into atmosphere from motor vehicles and factories.

But perhaps the most dangerous is the production of chemically synthesized chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are used in cooling systems and aerosol spray cans and in the production of some fast food containers. This greenhouse gas has been blamed for heating up the atmosphere as well as thinning the upper level of the atmosphere, the ozone layer.

Many scientists are predicting an increase of about 1 degree Celsius in the global mean temperature by 2025 and a 3-degree increase by the end of the next century.

Завдання. Перекладіть рідною мовою: Tarn Lehrer


Pollution, pollution - you can use the latest toothpaste And then rinse your mouth with industrial waste. Just go out for a breath of air And you'll be ready for medicare. The city streets are quite a thrill -If the hoods don't get you the monoxide will. Pollution, pollution - wear a gas mask and a veil, Then you can breathe - long as you don't inhale. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly -But they don't last long if they try. Запитання для диспуту:

1. What kind of personal environment do you enjoy? Do you like to be outside in nature or inside in an artificially cooled or heated environment? What natural surroundings do you prefer? Do you like a climate that is cool or warm? Moist or dry?

2. What do you know about pollution? What are the different kinds

of pollution? What are some major causes of pollution? What are

some immediate and long-range effects of pollution?

3. How do you dispose of your trash when you are at home? In a

public place? In your car? How does your community or town

dispose of its trash?

4. How many throw-away-products do you use in your home? For

example, do you regularly use packaged or prepared foods or

frozen dinners in throw-away-trays? Do you drink soft drinks

from cans or bottles? Do you use aerosol cans? If you are a parent,

do you use (or have you used) disposable diapers with your baby?

Have you thought of possible long-range effects of using so

many throw-away-products-especially paper and styrofoam products?

5. Can you name three endangered species? Can you explain why one species is endangered and what can be done to revive the species? When the protection of an endangered species conflicts with economic or human values, such as job security or health, which is more important?






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