(BRANDON HANSEN/Managing Editor of the Chewelah Independent)
An interesting point brought up by one of my favorite podcasters, Dan Carlin, has my brain spinning more than usual this week: what if we can’t keep up with our own technological progress?
The growth and advancement of technology in our society has reached breakneck speeds. From the rise of the computer, internet, smartphone and social media, things that are part of everyday life now are completely different from what they were 10 or 15 years ago. Computer chips and capabilities are getting faster and more capable every few months and everyone talks as if artificial intelligence will be taking over any day now.
And how are we supposed to adjust to all this?
While the older person who can’t use a cellphone, or the worker who looks at email like Egyptian hieroglyphics are funny jokes for the watercooler, it’s only the surface level of how technology is advancing almost too quickly for us to adapt.
Society is built on several layers of pillars. There are government organizations and mechanisms. There are societal structures like community groups or first responders who keep things running. There are traditions, rites of passage, religions, behavior patterns and other cultural things that are hard-wired into our culture.
But with technology changing all this, how is a human-created society supposed to adapt? On the surface level, we’ve seen physical media all but disappear as video stores have gone out of business, newspapers have taken it in the pants money-wise and other pillars begin to struggle. Community groups are seeing less involvement, there is a shortage of truck drivers, police, firemen and just about everything else that keeps society running.
Now I’m not going to turn into old boomer man, saying “people would rather play video games than be a fireman,” but society has changed so much, it’s much easier to get a cushy office job that pays marginally the same as a police officer. Throw in how everyone has a cellphone to video record every move an officer makes and social media breaks down every split-second decision an officer makes, these positions are becoming less and less appealing.
When it comes to myself, I find that convenience is becoming a bigger selling point for products. Mail a shaving kit to you each month? Do you want a box of your puppy’s favorite chew toys? Everybody wants you to get into a subscription for something so you can live a specific kind of lifestyle. This in turn also hurts the brick and mortar shops locally. If I get a box mailed to me, then I’m not going down to a local business to buy it.
It’s becoming harder and harder for me, a relatively young person, to relate to people that are growing up in this maelstrom of social media justice, us vs. them politics and witch hunting everybody from the other team. Some of the opinions and “history lessons” people like to throw on social media are so out of touch and ridiculous when compared to my own reality, I can’t even relate anymore.
News too seems to have changed from “what happened today” to “here is what people said on social media on what happened today” with very little info on what actually happened today.
Pillars in media like Sports Illustrated have basically faded to obscurity. Stores like Sears are no longer a thing.
There are things in my own life that we always used to do, like go down to the video shop and rent Nintendo games. That’s gone. Sit around the TV as a family and watch a specific program at a specific time (20/20 with Barbara Walters). It’s all on-demand now. There was a time when a cell phone notification didn’t elicit dread because there was no cell phone. Now it’s just ding, ding, ding.
This has changed fast, really fast. How can society adjust to even these minor things? Quick change can really cause issues in a society as people grapple to deal with the ramifications of a new technology and what it means.
The people in the early 1900s had more in common with the farmer of ancient Egypt than the technology crazed hipsters of today.
So will technological progress be slowed by us old fogies not able to adjust or will society continue to speed forward? Will the adjustments we have to make rule us all?
How would we react to smartphones interfaces directly connected to our brain patterns? Advertising personalized to our own thoughts? Heck, what will self-driving vehicles do to the trucking industry? What will people do on their commutes if they don’t have to drive?
With technology changing at a quicker pace, it just feels like there will be some changes hard for even young-ish people to adapt to. There is the expectation that things will always be relatively the same but if the past 10-20 years are any indication, who knows what the heck will happen?
I worry because the human brain is still somewhat lizard-like. We love our routines and things can shift in society without us realizing. With so much information exchanging through technology now, how can we even keep up with it. We started out as simple hunter-gatherers, and those deeply embedded natural patterns are being disrupted.
I have no doubt in the next ten years I will be struggling to put on my Space Belt and arguing with my robot butler. I can already see trends and issues that have been extremely tough for me to adjust to. So please join me in feeling sorry for my extremely old self.