THE DISINTEGRATION OF CIVILIZATION

Lately I’ve been reading posts focusing on how civilization is disintegrating because of technology. How we’ve lost our privacy, obviously because of social networking. The prevalence of fake news on the Internet that so many morons take seriously has had a lethal impact on our lives. We worry that the loss of language and relationship skills by people who living on mobile phones will eliminate intimacy. And finally, my personal favorite paranoid fear, that mobile phones are scrambling everyone’s’ brains and are secretly responsible for the epidemic of worldwide stupidity.

It should only be that simple.

WHAT PRIVACY?


I’m not convinced we had any privacy to lose. Unless you were a recluse alone in a cave, you live with and near other people. Who know all about us. A lot more than we wish they did. You sneeze while your neighbors says “gesundheit.” Have a fight with your spouse and everyone knows every detail the following morning.

Gossip is the meat and potatoes of human relationships. Call it networking or whatever you like: we talk about each other all the time. Privacy is an illusion. It was an illusion a couple of hundred years ago.

The dog might talk!

The big difference now is you can use your computer or phone to tell total strangers everywhere in the world all your personal business. Be grateful that most of them could care less about you and your personal nonsense.

Revealing everything to everyone is a choice. Voluntary. No one makes you do it, yet so many people feel the need to expose everything. Publicly. We care a lot less about privacy than we say we do. Maybe we want to protect our bank accounts and credit cards, but otherwise? How much do you care who knows what’s going on in your life?

As herd animals, we are nosy. How lucky that knowing our neighbors’ business doesn’t require technology, just eyes and ears. For broadcast purposes, a mouth works as well any other device.

OLD PEOPLE DON’T USE MODERN TECHNOLOGY — NOT


Is technology more important to young people than old people? I am told “we” resist new technology. I recall thinking along the same lines when I was young and stupid. Young people underestimate their elders.

People my age have not rejected technology. Rather, we embrace it with enthusiasm. Technology has impacted us more than any other age group. Computers give us access to the world, let us to remain actively in touch with scattered friends and family. It helps us know what people are thinking. Digital cameras with auto-focus compensate for aging eyes. Miniaturization makes more powerful hearing aids so that people who would be condemned to silence can remain part of the world. Pacemakers prolong life; instrumented surgeries provide solutions to what were insoluble medical problems.

Technology has saved us from early death and from losing touch.

ENTERTAINMENT!


We can watch movies whenever we want. Old ones. New ones. We can see them in on huge screens at home with better sound and cheap snacks … plus a convenient “pause” button. Virtually everyone has a cell phone, use electronic calendars and a wide range of applications to do everything from post-processing photographs to balancing bank accounts. My generation consumes technology voraciously, hungrily.

Unlike our kids, we don’t take it for granted. We didn’t always have it. We remember the old days and despite nostalgic memes, most of us are glad we don’t live there.

We can’t all repair a computer, but neither can the kids. They merely know how to use them. My granddaughter was using a computer when she was three, but she has no idea how it works. Most of her friends are equally ignorant. For them, technology is not a miracle. They don’t need to understand it. They feel about technology the way we felt about electricity. Turn it on.

Does it work? Good.

No? Call the repair person. Or grandma.

CONVERSATION – THE LOST ART


I wonder how kids who don’t have conversations will manage to have relationships. Not that we were perfect, but at least we knew how to talk. The ubiquitous availability of social networking gives kids the illusion of having lots of friends … yet many of them have no real friends.

I don’t want anyone to give up their electronic goodies … but it would be nice if there were more direct communication, human to human. I have watched groups of teens sit around in a room, but instead of talking, they send texts to one another. Yikes.

All of us have gotten a bit lazy about relationships. We send an email when we should pick up the phone. We pick up the phone when we should make a visit. Nothing electronic that can replace a hug. Just a thought to ponder as you enter a new year.

STUPID IS AS STUPID WAS AND EVER WILL BE


Stupid people were always stupid. They always will be. People who believe nonsensical rumors have always existed. And there have always been nonsensical rumors for them to believe. Remember: before we had Internet rumors, we had plenty of regular, old-fashioned rumors. They didn’t travel as fast as they do on the Internet, but they got the job done.

The problem isn’t computers. It’s people.

THE GOOD OLD DAYS WEREN’T SO GREAT


The good old days weren’t all that terrific. There were good things (especially if you were white and well-off), but plenty of bad stuff, too … and we never took care of much of that business.

Ugly stuff. Institutionalized racism. A gap between classes even worse than now. Real oppression of women. If you think we don’t get a fair shake now, you would never have survived growing up in the 1950s. Help wanted ads in newspapers were divided by sex. We had to wear skirts to school, even in the dead of winter.

We’re going through a rough period. I am counting on it coming to a natural end in the foreseeable future — like, during my lifetime. We have a lot of unfinished issues. The wheel has rolled around  and now, we ARE going to deal with them.

The basics of human nature hasn’t fundamentally changed. We have a kind of cruel savagery embedded in our DNA.  I doubt anything will erase it. Will we evolve to the point where we are truly civilized? I don’t know. I hope so.

9 thoughts on “THE DISINTEGRATION OF CIVILIZATION”

  1. I still marvel at the wonders of the technology we have at our fingertips every day. The level of access that gives to certain areas of my life sometimes irks me…but that too comes with the potential to be useful. Medical records in emergencies and such.
    It is people that cause the problems, the misuse…not the machines.

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  2. Well covered post Spike!

    I think there is one aspect to the problem though you may have missed.

    The big problem i see for our future society’s disintegrations is Change! Not simply the ever-changing nature of our society on the local, national and global levels but the RATE at which our society’s change!

    Since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s we have had to learn to cope with changes to the way we live and work and communicate with our fellow man. The rate at which we need to cope to often world wide changes is increasing exponentially. My father worked in the one trade for life; i have worked in several different types of jobs; the students of today may have to work in 5-10 new professions during their working career – if they are allowed to have such a thing in 20 years time.

    I fear for the average human’s ability to keep on coping with such radical and frequent changes to how we survive the modern world. If anything will disintegrate a society it will be the overloading of our ability to decide and choose correctly between an ever-multiplying variety of choices we need to take in our day to day lives, particularly when combined with the loss of stability incurred with the rapid loss of old traditional ways of behaving or regions of familiarity and comfort that were once considered our safe havens.

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  3. For my grandmother, the good old days were when the family would meet for a big meal and we could all hash out what was going on in our lives and in the world. That would be the good part. She did complain a lot about all the work that is now very much alleviated by machines. No I wouldn’t want to go back. But those big family meals were nice.
    Leslie

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  4. Yes we ‘oldsters’ can and do use technology. SOME of us. I know personally at least a half dozen women in their 70s and 80s who do not own a computer, a cell phone or any other device. One got a tablet for Christmas and was totally lost as to how to turn the thing on, let alone use it. And the coming generation forgets this. Now people of my age (late 50s) DO know how to use all the crap they’ve developed over the years, because we were the ones who developed it in the first freakin’ place. Some of US however don’t join in the race to have the latest and newest and some of it confounds me…I’ve never understood the I-pod nor it’s Android counterpart, I still buy CDs or stream my music on my computer. I own some 8 track tapes and some cassettes and vinyl records too. The coming generation will be in our spot, as we will be in our parents and grandparents shoes eventually. Life circles around. I think the greatest challenge the coming generation(s) face is that lack of knowing how to communicate. Some of us didn’t do it well, and look at the result. As you said in one of your other posts this morning “We made a very stupid decision and must live with the consequences of that”…well not being able to COMMUNICATE face to face will only compound it, IMHO. But then I’m rather dim and I’m getting dimmer the older I get too. And those old ladies up here that don’t plug in? I do what I can to make sure they get hard copies of the information they lack and to advise those younger than me to remember that not everyone is a gear head (say that to a millennial. they don’t know what you’re talking about) and is computerized. I get the sense the coming generations can’t conceive the notion..

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    1. I never got into the music device thing, but that’s because I hate ear buds. They won’t stay in my ears. I have very straight ear canals, and they just fall out. IF you can’t use ear buds, there’s not much point in some tiny, impossible to read music playing device … and the truth is, I am FAR more addicted to audiobooks than music. We have CDs that we play in the car, though. We croak along with the music up VERY loud!

      And there I was thinking MY generation invented computers. I think I thought that because I was actually THERE. Or at least we invented data bases. I know because I really WAS there for DB-1, which was the great granddad of all future data bases. Tom says we are the original ORIGINAL geeky nerds. I know I was one of the very first tech writers. They hadn’t even invented the name of our profession. No one knew what to call me.

      I just don’t LIKE new cell phones. Garry and I were very early cell phone users because he was out in the field and he REALLY needed a cell phone. They were gigantic, heavy things, but man, you could get a signal from anywhere to anywhere else … AND you could hear them. Now, they’re tiny and they don’t have keys except for those silly virtual ones that work half the time.

      I know there are people who never really “got” computers. Garry was one of them, but I’ve kicked and pushed him and he’s pretty competent on a computer and a Kindle and if you beat him up, he can use a cell phone, but he doesn’t have to like it. He doesn’t even like REGULAR phones, so no surprise that he could live forever without ever making a phone call to anyone. That is my job.

      We lost ALL our vinyl records in a flood in our basement. There were a lot of them — mine and Garry’s — but the water really killed them.

      My granddaughter and her friends really DON’T know how to talk to each other. They are working on it and I figure by the time they are old enough to think about getting married, they will have organized simple conversations. I thought talking was the single thing ALL youngsters could manage.

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    1. I think that’s a huge difference. I remember my mother pointing out that in HER world, seeing a car was special. Horses and carts? That was normal when she was growing up. We had different “normals” and my granddaughter and I have very different normals. But my son and I are in a similar place.

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      1. Wow. What neat perspective! Since we moved to Hawaii, we have been diligent about trying to learn Hawaiian history and culture. I always find it fascinating to see the things they were able to build by hand without the use of modern tools and building materials. And, I just love how that is passed on among the generations.

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