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.
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 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.
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.