Technology: The Illusion of Change
Unless you’re still living in a bunker because someone forgot to tell you Y2K never happened, then it’s pretty hard to dismiss technology’s presence and influence on our culture. Eyes glued to screens of all shapes and sizes, drones buzzing around like UFO’s (I didn’t even know what a drone was last year) and shopping for groceries online just to name a few, technology has transformed our lives; or has it?
I hear a lot of moans and groans about kids being glued to the screen or the selfie generation and their shameless posing and posting to social media; about taxi drivers who don’t need navigational skills or artificial intelligence so advanced Google might as well be creating Skynet. (Terminator reference!)
In my eyes, I don’t actually think much has changed.
Now here me out, kids may not have been playing with iPads in the 50’s but they definitely had board games, the radio and comic books.
I know selfies didn’t exist to instantly post to instagram in the 60’s, but was it so crazy for my grandparents to ask a stranger to take a picture of them at the Eiffel Tower so they could paste it into their scrapbook?
Google didn’t exist in the 80’s but my mom used encyclopedias to figure out whether the berry I ate in the backyard was going to end me or not.
And what about Netflix and chill? Ever heard of the drive-in?
I can go on but it’s very clear these “new technologies” or “new generations” are just evolved versions of what we’ve always had and who we always were. Youtube used to be TV, which used to be radio, which used to be newspapers. Social media is nothing but a TV in my pocket and reality stars with massive online followings are just elite athletes in a new sport called audience building.
So what’s my point?
My point is if we’re wasting time talking about new technologies or social trends and whining about how “things aren’t like they used to be” then we might be missing the bigger picture.
In my eyes, thing are exactly how they used to be and it feels like technology only creates the illusion of change.
The new era is just an evolution of the same old formula that’s always been used to distract us and encourage more efficient spending patterns. Athletes promoting cigarettes in magazines in the 40’s is no different than a social media starlet promoting lip enhancements today on snap chat.
I’m not seeing time machines or portals, or a “power wifi” with the ability to feed free energy to the whole world (à la Nikola Tesla), I’m not even seeing flying cars! (and every 80’s movie said we’d have flying cars by now…)
Most technology introduced to us brings nothing new to the table, it just allows us to do what we always did, only faster with fancy new buzzwords. It’s like the greatest minds in the world are developing tech to sell us more stuff instead of solve real problems.
Now I’m not bashing gadgets and evolution of products and services. Uber makes taxi service clean, seamless and accountable; an impossible dream even in 2000. YouTube allows me to learn about anything I search for and Facebook allows me to get my ideas out to you!
However with all the effort spent to create and sell more consumables which bring us no real value or evolution as a species, I can’t help but imagine what the world would be like if the same effort, even a quarter of the effort, was used to spread knowledge and educate.
It’s not hard to see that in our world of iPhones and drone deliveries, the education system has been conveniently left in its horse and carriage stage. Enormous college tuition fees keep the poor uneducated, unhealthy and hopeless. Imagine teaching people to teach themselves using cutting edge technology to make it as easy to learn about nutrition as it is to keep up with the Kardashians.
But then if too many people knew they could eat in a way where they could avoid prescription medication or take the time to understand they’re only struggling to make ends meet because they’re buying too much crap they don’t need, that probably wouldn’t be good for business…
I’d like to clarify I’m not speaking as the all-knowing; I spent years in the hamster wheel with the “more is the solution” mentality, unfortunately there was never enough, only more problems. With clarity in mind, abandoning my routines, obligations and lifestyle in general has given me the ability to see things as an outsider, with my previous self as the subject.
I continue to write out my thoughts not to impose my ideas on anyone, rather, with your feedback, to see whether my logic makes sense, or if I belong in Arkham Asylum.
Regardless I’m having a lot of fun and if I get nothing other than the ability to skip out on a few hours of possible Amazon browsing, then I’m a happy camper.