That one little catch with all of these new technologies – they’ll cost you
Hiram looked with amazement at Abner’s demonstration.
“And this,” Abner concluded, “is the power of electricity. It will truly revolutionize our lives.”
Hiram almost jumped out of his socks. “So when can all of us have this power of electricity?”
“Trust me,” Abner replied, “Mr. Edison and the other businessmen would love for you to have this power of electricity as soon as possible.”
“This will be amazing,” said Hiram. “It would be handy to have the power of electricity around harvesting time. Perhaps there may be other times of the year in which I could use it also. Although frankly it would be ridiculous to use electricity all of the time.”
Hiram noticed the frown on Abner’s face. “Am I proposing too great of a use of electricity?”
“No,” Abner replied. “Quite the contrary. The businessmen desire that you use electricity all the time. Every month. Every day. And every night.”
Abner continued, despite the puzzled look on Hiram’s face. “You see, Hiram,” he explained, “once you begin to use electricity, you will have to use it forever. Today, it seems to you like a luxury. Later, you will want to use it. But after a while, you will need to use it. You literally will not be able to survive without it.”
“And you will need to pay for the electricity,” Abner continued. “At first you’ll only have to pay a little bit, but a hundred years from now you will have to pay a lot. Your home will have a number of devices that require more and more electricity, including automatic fans that cool your house using electricity, fancy types of phonographs that play records and other things, and new devices that we cannot even imagine today. And every month, you will receive an electric bill. You will have to pay that electric bill every month. And that monthly electric bill may be in the hundreds of dollars.”
That shooke Hiram up. “Hundreds of dollars a month? How can anyone pay hundreds of dollars a month for electricity?”
“Actually, it’s not that bad,” replied Abner, “since people will make tens of thousands of dollars a year by the time hundred dollar electric bills become commonplace. But the important thing is that you will have to pay this every month, whether you like it or not.”
“But can’t I just not pay one month and then get electric service the next month?” asked Hiram.
“No,” replied Abner. “Can you just not eat for a month and then resume eating the next month? It will be the same with electricity.”
“I’m not sure that I like that,” said Hiram. But then he took another look at Abner’s illuminating light and his phonograph. “But then again, perhaps it may be a small price to pay after all.”
As Hiram thought about this, he noticed that Abner was fiddling with a most unusual set of spectacles. They looked like normal spectacles, but there was a strange box on the corner of the spectacles.
“Abner,” asked Hiram, “what are those spectacles? Is this something else that will use electricity?”
Abner placed the spectacles above his nose. “After a fashion,” he replied. “There will be a day when everyone will have to wear these special spectacles. Otherwise, they will fail to detect the driverless car without headlights – oh, never mind. I was just musing on some things.”
(Those of you who are equipped with an electrically-powered computing device may wish to read this thread for some further background.)