Andru McCracken, Editor

by Andru McCracken, Editor

My wife and I recently bought a drone. It’s an amazing thing, it actually uses a narrow form of artificial intelligence to fly. As a pilot you just need to tell it where to go.

The price point was reasonable and it certainly is a valuable tool in our arsenal of photography gear. But it raises some really troubling questions for me.

My 70-year-old father was over recently, sombrely looking over my daughter’s toys, and mentioned that when we were growing up, we were not allowed any toys with batteries.

It’s a half truth to be sure. We did end up with some electronic gadgets that were so profuse in the 1980s. I had a copy of the spacecraft Challenger. It played a few dorky sounds when you pressed the buttons on the wing and I can faintly remember some brotherly beatings around possession of a set of walkie talkies. When we were lucky enough to find a battery powered electric motor we hooked it up to our lego, with varying success. But the gist of my dad’s statement is true, electronic gadgets were relatively rare in our house.

Now I look around and I see my world has changed completely. My nest is crammed full of electronic gadgets. There must be six working cellphones rattling around our house, easily 6 computers and a host of computer screens, 5 printers, a gps, 3 musical keyboards, and a raft of other electronic goods. It’s as if I’m going through a second infancy. I’m surrounding myself with shiny things. Many of these things are on their way to the dump or recycle but suffice it to say I’ve got more toys than Santa’s elves. There’s got to be an ounce of a hoarding impulse here, but there is something else that really troubles me:

I will not account for the true cost of these products. I just pay the sticker price to an online electronics retailer, but the ‘externalities,’ the harm done during the production of these devices and the legacy of the devices themselves, their waste, that will be borne by someone else.
That someone else lives in my house and she is only one year old.

That’s bad but it gets worse. When I buy a gadget online, I send that money straight out of town. It’s cringe-worthy. Liberal spending at the expense of the planet without so much as a penny to the local economy or jobs.

Late Night Shopping is coming up in Valemount this Friday. If you’ve got any grinchy notions about getting the best deal online, just consider this: Every dollar spent locally nets 3 to 4 more dollars circulating through the economy. Regardless of where these items were made, at least we have the opportunity to participate in a local economy. You can’t do all your shopping online and then complain there is no place to buy socks!

This Christmas season, I really hope to buy less online and more locally.