The Charcoal Experience

Foodie Friday Fun time! With the start of daylight saving time last weekend, my thoughts turn to a food-related topic: grilling. It’s hard to go outside in the winter to fire up the grill when it’s dark by the time you need to cook dinner. While I own a little miner’s lamp I can wear to see the grill surface in the dim light, it’s certainly not as easy as when the sun is till shining. Then there is the fact that it’s 35 degrees…

English: Preparing grill for grilling, grill w...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have an indoor gas grill and we put it to use over the winter, but there’s nothing like grilling over hot coals. Which spurred a thought about technology, of course.

Lots of people I know own gas grills they use outdoors. There’s no question that this little bit of technology has made their lives easier, just as the high-powered vents that allow us to use our indoor gas grill do. But the technology hasn’t made the food any better. In fact, I think most things cooked on a gas grill taste flat – they lack the grilled flavor that charcoal imparts. Or worse – they have an artificial taste that comes from the gas.  Better technology but a worse experience.

Think about how that same principle translates into other things. There’s no question email has made communication easier in business but I think the “flavor” of the communication is worse. It lacks nuance and a personal touch.  Like the gas grill it’s faster, easier, and more convenient.  But better?  I don’t think so.

Getting lost in the “newness” of something can blind us to the fact that it’s delivering a lesser experience.   There’s new technology every day, it seems, and I worry that a good deal of it will just pull us further apart from reality even as it enhances our ability to communicate what’s going on around us.  The next time you’re at a concert or a school play, take note of how many people are “experiencing” the moment through a video screen instead of paying attention to the reality that’s in front of them.   They’re keeping a better record of the experience thanks to the technology but do they have a better memory?

Give me charcoal – a technology that’s been around for centuries – any time.  You?

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