A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

The Man Scout: Let’s commit to using technology for good and trying to create more positivity in the world

By Chris Cole
Special to NKyTribune

First things first – a big Man Scout thank you to my wife, Megan, for her column last week as I was recovering from knee surgery. Awesome job, my love.

I’ve had a lot of time over the past couple weeks to reflect on my Man Scout journey and how much I’ve learned and grown through this experience. I’ll write more about that next week in my final column, but for now, as I sit here icing my knee and watching the snow fall, I’m thinking about something I touched on briefly in one of my first few columns: Scout Master YouTube.

The first video Chris ever found online was a Rice Krispies commercial from 1959. The jingle got stuck in his head and he still finds himself singing it today.

We’re blessed to live in a time when technology has expanded our access to information in ways we could have never imagined possible. If I’m trying to learn to tie a specific knot or start a fire using a flint rock, I can pull up YouTube and find literally hundreds of videos that walk me through the process step by step.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. A young scout in 1952 certainly didn’t have that luxury. He had his trusty Boy Scouts Handbook, and that was about it. Sure, he could ask his parents or a scout leader for help, but that’s hardly the same as the on-demand bottomless treasure trove of the Internet.

I’ve spent half my life online. My first exposure to the world wide web came when I was a student at Northern Kentucky University. My friend Brian and I would spend hours in the computer lab exploring this new world.

One day I discovered a site that had old television commercials – this was almost a decade before YouTube was launched – and spent hours watching old black and white jingles. Sometimes I still find myself singing a Rice Krispies commercial I discovered on there.

When Brian and I discovered a chat house where we could talk in real time to people across the globe, we were hooked. I don’t think I went to class for two weeks after that.

The Man Scout challenge: capture the beauty around you. Here, Chris’s pet cockatiel Woodstock is perched upon his surgically repaired knee.

Today we take for granted the idea of connecting with people in other countries. At any given time I could be Facebook messaging my friend and unofficial brother-in-law Deok Su in South Korea, chatting with friends I made on a mission trip in Guatemala or looking at beautiful pictures my brother posted during a trip to Lithuania.

I know it’s fashionable to trash social media these days, and I’m as guilty of that as the next guy. It’s true that technology has changed the way we live our lives and how we treat each other, often for the worse.

But technology has also dramatically improved how we live, and we often overlook that. As difficult as it has been to adjust to COVID-19, imagine where we’d be without Facebook, Zoom or iPhone cameras.

The truth is, all of those are just tools. They can be used for good or evil. They can make our lives better or worse depending on how we choose to use them.

A good scout uses his tools responsibly, whether it be a blade, rope or cell phone. We can all make the world a better place by taking advantage of the amazing opportunities we’ve been afforded as citizens of the technology age.

And so here is my Man Scout challenge to you: find ways to use technology for good. Use your camera to capture the beauty around you. Use social media to put positivity into the world. Send someone you’ve been missing during quarantine a text or a DM and let them know that your life is better with them in it.

Until next week, how can you use technology to Do a Good Turn Daily?

Chris Cole is Director of Enterprise Communications at Sanitation District No. 1 and a deacon at Plum Creek Christian Church in Butler. He lives in Highland Heights with his wife, Megan. The Man Scout chronicles Cole’s journey to acquiring some of the skills of the head, the heart and the hand he failed to learn as a child of the 1980s growing up in Newport. His field guide: a 1952 Boy Scouts Handbook he found on eBay.

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One Comment

  1. Toni Daniels says:

    I always enjoy these columns. I hope you keep them up.

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