If you have a throbbing social conscience and need something new to worry about, consider computers and the African-American.
As a group, blacks are shunning the mad rush to put computers in their homes.
A government survey says only 11 percent of black households have computers.
That puts them dead last -- behind Asians, 39 percent; whites, 28 percent; Native Americans, 21 percent; and Hispanics, 13 percent.
With much of the population going goofy over cyberspace, why are blacks turning away?
Newsweek magazine says there are several reasons.
One is that they believe the whole computer experience is a nerdy white guys' thing.
Two, they believe that the information highway is traveled by a lot of white bigots.
And this causes grave concerns -- yes, very, very grave -- that blacks will be left behind in the frantic national stampede toward computer use and computer literacy.
Other racial and ethnic groups will be confidently clicking their mice at Windows or Mac icons, creating spreadsheets, riding their high-speed modems through the Internet and the World Wide Web in search of new and amazing data and linking to a global electronic community, while blacks are doing . . . doing what?
I don't know what they're doing. But whatever it is, it sure beats messing around with a computer.
Yes, by ignoring the computer craze, blacks have shown keen judgment and good sense. They are fairly accurate in their view of the cyberspace craze.
Without question, it is a nerdy white guys' thing.
Just look at Bill Gates, the owl-eyed software king who is America's richest billionaire.
Worst nerd I've ever seen.
The man could have a trillion dollars, and he'd still look like he couldn't bench press a tuna salad sandwich.
I've looked in on the major modem blabber worlds -- America Online, Prodigy, CompuServe and eWorld.
Every professional techie belongs to at least one of them.
These were the guys in your high school class who were good at advanced algebra and calculus and hated gym because they had to take off their clothes in the locker room.
Now they use their modems to go on-line to tell nerdy jokes, engage in nerdy sexual banter (Hi, my modem is bigger than your modem, hee-hee) and type hysterical insults at anyone with whom they disagree.
This is known among nerds as "flaming."
That means a nerd can talk tough while quivering behind his computer and a fake name.
They boldly say things they'd never say face-to-face in a tavern -- or even at a Starbucks -- because they would swoon from fright.
It is a world unfamiliar to any black kid who has stood in a school yard or on a street corner engaging in the mock-hostile banter that blacks call "signifying."
Or to anyone who has worked for a living while using a toolbox bigger than a pocket protector.
And if blacks have encountered racial hostility on the various popular modem services and the Internet, there is an obvious explanation: Yes, it is a popular gathering place for bigots, racists and all kinds of nut cases.
History and science tell us that the worst bigots are men with small chins and skinny arms. Just look at Hitler's crowd of high-level geeks.
That's what you find on the info highway -- snarly little right-wing creeps who believe Rush the Fat Boy is the second coming, and self-righteous liberal creeps who don't understand why the world hasn't accepted Bill Clinton as the true second coming.
The two extremes have more in common than they know.
So blacks are taking a pass on this sociological and commercial fad. They aren't missing much.
Just look at the biggest selling computer software programs.
The hottest program is something called "Printshop Deluxe."
It allows you to use your computer to print your own greeting cards, stationery, signs, posters, banners and calendars.
Think about that: Why would any sensible person spend $2,000 on a computer (don't let the salesman kid you; it will cost you at least that much) to print greeting cards and letterheads that you can buy for $10 at a local stationery store?
I have just saved you $1,990.
The second hottest program is called "Quicken," which can balance your checkbook. You can do the same thing with a $3 ledger and a $3 pocket calculator.
I have just saved you $1,994.
And most of the other best sellers are programs that help you keep your computer running, so you can waste time on-line or printing your own greeting cards.
Of course, without a computer and modem you will miss out on some of the on-line smart talk, most of which sounds like this:
"Can I turn you on?"
"Huh? You man or woman or something else?"
"Huh? I ain't sure. How about you?"
"Huh? Hold on while I look."
So let us not rush to drag blacks into this foolishness.
Where would Michael Jordan be today if he had spent his formative years going one-on-one with a spreadsheet?