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Challenging the Illusion of Control: Unveiling Life’s Unpredictability

Written by Shaun Tumpane

Columnist for the Laguna Woods Globe

In my quest to identify the precise moment when my life spiraled out of control and the culprit responsible, I find myself confronted with a myriad of instances to ponder. Yet, arriving at a definitive conclusion proves more challenging than anticipated.

There exists a faction who adamantly profess to maintain a semblance of autonomy over their existence. It elicits a wry chuckle from us seasoned individuals who have weathered the sands of time.

When posed with this introspective query, a common refrain among men emerges almost instinctively: “It was when I tied the knot.”

Before you rally to burn your brassieres and male undergarments in protest (let’s not deceive ourselves – if you qualify for Medicare, sport a few extra pounds, and happen to be male, a supportive undergarment might not be such a far-fetched idea), pause to consider that this sentiment is not an indictment of matrimony. Rather, it encapsulates the notion that marriage symbolizes a return to the comforting embrace of domesticity—a sanctuary that grown-up boys, consciously or subconsciously, seek as the quintessence of contentment.

While the exact juncture of my surrender to fate eludes me, the identity of the perpetrator is unmistakable. For denizens of what we term “Western civilization,” the culprit invariably manifests as the ubiquitous smartphone.

I reminisce about possessing one of the last true phones, reminiscent of Captain Kirk’s iconic flip device from the 1990s: a tool for calls or texts.

Texting? Remember when the mention of “text” invariably evoked visions of lengthy tomes? If the Baby Boomers had presided over the christening of these technological marvels, “text” might well have been dubbed “send note”—a fitting descriptor redolent of a bygone era when passing notes discreetly in classrooms was the norm.

Fast forward to 2024, and the capabilities of smartphones have burgeoned exponentially. They serve as telephones, calculators, virtual stores of every ilk, financial managers, virtual banking hubs, mystical divining rods adept at locating any object on Earth (even water sources), avenues to meet both real and fictional paramours, personalized cinema experiences complete with snacks delivered to your abode, climate control interfaces, car ignition systems, home security deactivation mechanisms for accommodating housekeepers, and my personal favorite, remote controls for hearing aids.

Undoubtedly, smartphones epitomize the epitome of labor-saving contrivances. Alas, they also function as insidious informants.

Merely contemplating a trip to Home Depot aloud prompted an unsolicited email about a sale at the store 13 minutes later. A passing mention of “croissant” mysteriously transformed my phone into a culinary guide.

Remarkably, my smartphone now dutifully reminds me of my anniversary, a peculiar feat considering I never imparted this information to the device.

Even the decision to replace my car tires was seemingly orchestrated by a silent collaboration between my vehicle and my smartphone, subtly coercing me into acquiescence.

Yes, I jest, asserting that I retain sovereignty over my life. Indeed.

Residing in Laguna Woods Village, Shaun Tumpane muses on the enigmatic influence of modern technology.