My hygienist asked this question and waited for my answer, as if there was something wrong, as if I was behind the times for not converting to electric tooth brushing by now.  But, no.  I do not.  I do still have hands and arms.  I can still buy a new toothbrush when the old one wears out.  I have no problem with this reliable system.

I read somewhere that the fellow who invented Pepsodent toothpaste conned the American people into believing that they needed his product.  Before Pepsodent, there was no such thing as toothpaste and folks used dentifrice powders to clean their teeth.  Tooth powders were effective but there was no boom market for them.  This inventor ran into problems selling his product at first.  People resisted making the change from powder to paste.  He thought and thought and then made it even harder to resist by adding the minty taste and the foam to convince them that it was really working.  (Although in truth, the suds and mint had nothing to do with removing the “film” from teeth.  They just created a sensational illusion and a convincing fresh taste in the mouth.)

In other words, it was a hoax.  But, not to be left out in the cold, the American Dental Association jumped on the bandwagon – a win-win for them and the inventor — and put their brand on paste, especially Crest.  “Look, Mom!  No cavities!”  This created a winning marketing strategy.  We got hooked on the foam and the minty taste and have been off and running ever since.  Now, it’s not just the paste, it’s the electric brush that we’ve got to have.

Can’t there be a winning strategy for something that’s actually good for us and that we actually need?

I like to know why I’m being asked to buy this or that or do this or that.  I like to take the time to decide if I really want it.  I will not follow the herd of mindless consumption and don’t care about being “judged” for not having this or that.  I’ve always been that way.  Growing up, we didn’t have the pressure to wear a certain brand perhaps because our parents would not roll over for that kind of “pressure.”  Maybe a style would come along, but, everyone couldn’t join in, and back then people weren’t excluded over a style. 

Now, I want to know why everything instant and electronic is replacing or shall I say “has replaced” manual systems.  I want to know what the hurry is, what does the winner get?  What’s the big deal about speed?  No one has explained that adequately.  Where are we going so fast?  Do we have more quality of life?  More time together?  What?  Growing up, I was taught to know my time tables, to figure in my head without using my fingers, to have the information I needed in my own brain so that when I needed to solve a problem, or when someone asked me a question, for example, I could actually think, remember, and answer in my own words.

Today, most folk who work with the public, especially in sales, would face a real dilemma if the power goes out.  They’d have to close down, at least temporarily, if their computer system stalled or crashed.  Since when did writing a manual receipt for a sale require rocket science?  It’s as if the human element of thinking or figuring is too great a risk for doing business today.

Even this computer I’m using to type this story on comes with a version of WORD that “wants” and “tries” to jump ahead of me all the time.  It’s exasperating!   What’s the point?  Maybe to someone who never knew a world where human thought and memory were important wouldn’t care, but I didn’t and I do.

I’m still a human being.  I’m still here.  When I call any company I’m doing business with, I don’t want to be told that I “can always go online and contact” them on their website at www dot.  If as a customer I’m a nuisance to you, let me know this and I will take my business elsewhere.  I’m peculiar that way.  Also, I’d like to ask someone, another human being who knows when I need directions, rather than flip to a new screen on a gadget.  When I go to the grocery store I won’t use the automatic checkout because it’s important to me to see another human being and have them hand me my change, even if they can’t figure out how much it is in their heads. 

I’m from another generation entirely.  One that obviously prefers and values human contact when doing business.  Once I had a teacher who said this all the time.  “Don’t sacrifice your self for your self image.”  In large part, today’s generation seems to have made such a sacrifice, keeping up with something even they cannot define, something being driven by forces and minds that care nothing about who they are and what they really need.  Forces and minds that care first about profit.

No, I don’t have an electric toothbrush.  I don’t plan on getting one.  I grew up at a time when people didn’t mind brushing their teeth with strokes, using their hands and living by their brains and remembering vital information.  I shudder to imagine a time when all things manual have been allowed to fade into a designation of “old fashioned” obsolescence.  When folk rely solely on gadgets and not their imaginations or original ideas to manage and navigate their lives because not enough people said, “no, I won’t.”  What happens when the lights go out or the system crashes?

We’re being made obsolete, folks, and I’m sure I’m not the only one noticing.