Elsa Franco Al Ghaslan
Published — Friday 4 January 2013
Last update 4 January 2013 12:17 am
There is one thing that I seem not to be able to understand: the modern obsession with “change.” I am well aware that change is a necessary part of life, that everything changes, that … the only thing that doesn’t change is change and every other commonplace, the trite remarks that you all know. I believe that change is necessary when… it is truly necessary. When your car is getting too old and is falling apart, you certainly need to buy a new one. When you realize that you are still wearing a sweater that dates back at least one decade, it’s definitely time to discard it and start wearing a more fashionable one. But what puzzles me is the fact that, every so often, I find that, for example, my e-mail page has been completely re-done. Why? I was totally comfortable with the first one I used; then I had to accept it when it was transformed and now… it keeps happening. I don’t see any improvement, no remarkable new feature, just little transformations here and there that neither make the e-mail easier to use (it is already easy enough, isn’t it?) nor it beautifies the page itself. A few days ago, for instance, I unexpectedly found out that several features had seemingly disappeared (I discovered that I now have to look for them in a “hidden” place). These tasks need now to be carried out in a different, but certainly not better way. On the contrary. Again, why?
I confess that I find it a bit hard to view “all” these transformations, adjustments, upgrading that happen daily in this technologically-driven world of ours as necessary. And not only technology is affected by this new obsession. It appears that human beings, especially the younger generation, have been caught in a frenzy of buying the newest device, of messaging, of texting, and “what’s up-ping” all the time. You hardly see a youngster without the latest iPhone, iPad etc. in their hand. My personal experience is that, when I am in class, I often have to “scold” (!!) my adult students because they believe they can follow the lecture while also using the mobile appendix that is permanently attached to their hand.
This need for “change”, for the “new” at all costs, has created a multitasked behavior that, in turn, is causing a vast lack of attention. People do many things at the same time because they need to move faster and faster. This might mean that quality is deemed less important than quantity. As long as you carry out as many tasks as you can contemporarily, you are fine. The “how” seems not to be particularly important any more.
Therefore change, speed, multitasking etc. are the characteristic features of this new world, as they appear to an “outsider” (such as I), who possibly belongs to the endangered species of those who still believe in a calm, attentive, careful pace of life. An old adage says something like “Those who stop, lose it all.” Well, it seems that most of our contemporaries apply such pearl of wisdom to the extremes and live a fast-paced life that does not leave too much time to observe, to appreciate, to… think! Do I sound a little pessimistic, here? Not at all. This is evolution. This is progress. The world is transforming itself, it is rapidly turning into what Science Fiction has been forecasting for a long time.
The world that most people seem to wish for is the one where everything is automated, where they have devices at their disposal that take care of all their needs, where always faster means of communications are available. And they are getting it. Soon you won’t need your hands to write. Your voice will do it for you. On second thought, I believe that this has already been done.
Eventually, you won’t even use your voice to transmit your message. Wires connected to your brain will do it for you. It’s also possible that you won’t have to walk anymore. You can function from your chair and what you want is automatically brought to you.
Such a future world was portrayed in the hit movie “Wall-E” which, although it had originally been created for children, offers plenty of material for adults to ponder upon. Is this the world that “you” wish to see materialize?
P.S. I have recently read about a new Japanese invention: a “talking fork.” Hats off to whoever is able to convince me about the utility of such “invention” that might justify the expenses for this kind of research.
n E-mail: [email protected]