Man Against Machine

We all know the syndrome discussed in the editorial “Thinking” (Prime, Sept. 23). Who remembers phone numbers anymore? How many people don’t even talk anymore? They just text.

A few years ago, I was puzzled when I saw my granddaughter sending voice messages up and back to her sister. She would record a clip and send it, then wait for a message to come back. (I don’t have a smartphone, so this was strange to me.)

I asked her why she was sending these voice messages. “Why don’t you just talk to her?”

Her reply left me speechless:

“Because when you talk to somebody you don’t have anything to say.”

We all know about the spiritual and psychological hazards of technology — especially the ubiquitous smartphone.

But long before cellphones and home computers, Harav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, taught us a lesson about a deeper aspect of man against machine. It was back in the days when they started using coin-operated toll baskets. Some drivers enjoyed practicing their slam dunks or bank shots.

But on the highway, Rav Aharon would tell his drivers not to use the automatic toll booth, but rather to pull into a manned booth. When the driver was puzzled, he explained, “It’s not kvod habriyos [respectful of humanity] to pass up a man for a machine — as though the man were redundant.”

Humans matter.

Shraga Abramson, Brooklyn, N.Y.