I wrote the following limerick in response to a personal request from Ralph Nader. And yes, I know that sounds crazy. So please allow me to explain:
Over twenty years ago, the New York Times Sunday Business section published my serious personal essay about technology in the workplace. My column, entitled “When Executives Should Just Say No,” dealt with the downside of technological advances. I concluded it with these questions:
Does that the 7:00 p.m. message really merit an immediate response? Is keeping staff hooked to computers all night a sensible use of personnel? And perhaps most important: Am I using these machines? Or are they using me?
My piece attracted a fair amount of attention, including radio interviews, a Boston Globe interview, and a reprint request from Pushcart Press’s Bill Henderson for his anthology “Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club.”
So, what does this have to do with Ralph Nader? It seems that Nader, a fan of that anthology when it was first published, has recently re-read it. And he’s sent personal letters to its contributors, asking us to re-read our respective pieces and send him updated thoughts on the topic, for an article he’s working on.
Instead of a prose response, I decided to express my updated views via limerick. So here’s what I sent to Ralph Nader:
In a decades-old piece, I once warned
With a Luddite’s distrust, unadorned,
Of technology’s lure;
Folks were duped, I was sure.
Now I’m one of those people I scorned.