Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist


Ever since I spent a long weekend in southern Highland County a few weeks ago, I have been hearing noises, even way down here in Georgia, from folks wanting me to “tell more” about my experience.

I will do so, but in a way unlike what you may expect and in a way that will perhaps be unsating to you. Why? First, I promised these kind folks I would not write an exposé about them. Second, I suspect some of you want some sort of voyeuristic look, like one might find in Hollywood or watching the Kardashians. That is shallow and cheap, something I will not do, either.

These fine folks and their kindred around the world, have developed their way of living, their lifestyle, over nearly half a millennium. It would be absolutely foolhardy and arrogant on my part to think that I could absorb the well thought out details of their day-to-day living patterns and correctly interpret them in one 72-hour session. I doubt I have enough time left on God’s green earth to figure them out even if I devoted the rest of my life full time to such an endeavor.

Instead, what I hope to bring you, over a period of time, is a tangential look at some juxtaposition of their lifestyle and ours thus illustrating what creeping technology may have done to us. Last week’s column (unable to escape bureaucracy) was a look in the way of which I speak.

Here we go.

Most of you probably think I have a normal voice, if you have not heard me speak in recent times. Despite my LinkedIn byline labeling me as “the voice of the worldwide pulp and paper industry” nothing could be further from the truth (I tried to re-assign this label to one of my associates a while back, yet suspecting they felt sorry for me, they refused to take it).

My voice problems parallel and were caused by my cancer fight. Several years ago, the best voice experts in the Southeast tried to fix my voice. They injected collagen into my vocal cords as a test. It worked as a temporary fix. However, when they tried belly fat (something I have in abundance) as the normal permanent solution, it didn’t work. So I am stuck with a voice that I know not what it will sound like from minute to minute.

Long story to get where I am going. So, a couple of weeks ago, I was ensconced in the Hampton Inn in Wilmington. My voice was not working, and it seemed for a while my fingers were not working on the touch screen of my phone. The faux finger problem turned out to be related to whether or not my phone was plugged in for charging in that particular room. Anyway, I thought for a minute that some new strange thing had made my fingers not control the phone as they are supposed to do.

Thinking of my southern Highland County friends, I had this thought. Is this the point we have come to, a place where a person can be classified as handicapped because (a) they cannot talk to their phone and (b) their fingers cannot interact with their phone?

I had already been thinking for some time that modern technology makes us ever more dependent on it and ever less capable of interacting with the world around us. For one moment, one evening in a hotel room, I thought I had seen the light as to the disaster this all is leading us to experience.

Turns out my fingers lived to work another day, and I did not have to depend on the voice that often fails me. Easily it could have been the experience I briefly thought it was, one that would leave me more functional in the southern Highland County environment than in a world surrounded by modern technological aids (most days my hands can still grip a hoe or a pitchfork, except when my muscle cramping acts up).

I fear this creeping dependency on technology is stealthily robbing us of capabilities. We’ll continue to explore this from time to time.

By the way, muscle cramping is a real part of my life, too, another visitor from my cancer days. But I have whipped it – no joke. A spoon full of simple yellow mustard, like you would put on a hot dog, nearly instantly (within about three minutes) abates my cramps for at least six hours. If you have cramping problems, I highly recommend you give it a try.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.