I used to have a friend who’d call me in the middle of the night. We are both night owls. We’d discuss philosophy, psychology, environmental issues, spirituality, and all matters of the universe.
Even though she’d be quite talkative, tipsy, and tearful at times, I miss those calls.
Today, if I want to know what universal matters she is thinking about, I have to go on Facebook. But I don’t like Facebook. For me, writing is an exploration so Twitter isn’t my style either. And Blogs? I only have one life time. Which makes me wonder, how many life times do others have?
Since the new technological revolution of the World Wide Web and its social media has taken over, the phone calls, the visits from friends, and the leisurely chats with neighbors have stopped. Even sending personal gifts has changed as well due to technology. Before, we really had to look for the best gifts in the physical store. But now, all we have to do is go to https://takethecoupon.com/ and voila, we can now send gifts to our loved ones.
Once in a while I receive an e-mail from an old friend or a business acquaintance. With anticipation I look forward to reading some kind words. When I see a link, not words, I can expect getting some words later. “If you have received any strange emails from my account, please ignore them. My account was hacked! It should be resolved. Thanks!” I’m just not good at ignoring things.
I do get reliable and regular e-mails from LinkedIn with a lot of professional pictures of people that I should know. Titled “Featured Updates from Your Extended Network”, the e-mails recommend that I “Connect with them to see what they’re up to”. I personally like being connected with my neighbors and know what they are up to more. I also get e-mails from Facebook telling me about “New Enhanced Features” and “Notifications”. Facebook offers to keep me connected. The e-mails display updated pictures of friends and family members and inform me that someone tagged me in a picture taken in some country that I could not have possibly been. Among 200+ friends, do they really know who I am?
My house is right across a most prestigious natural preserve. Hawks fly graciously above it carried by the wind, coyotes hide tactfully among the sage brushes, and rattlesnakes enjoy an unperturbed doze in the heat of the summer sun, often right in the middle of a path.
The animals don’t mind the people anymore. Nobody pays attention, not even to the dangers. I used to try to warn walkers of the rattlesnakes. With their ears covered by headphones and their eyes fixated solely on their cell phones or iPods, people can’t hear or see me. I don’t say anything anymore. Like the animals, I just watch.
I just watch – unless I get woken up from my afternoon nap by a lost hiker. “Hello!” “Hello!” was the desperate sound that arose me out of my dream just a few days ago. As I stepped out of the front door, a young lady in her early twenties apologized for her disruption. “I am so sorry, but I am lost. How do I get out of here?” Without looking up at me or her surrounding, she continued frantically to look at her Smartphone. “I am still in California, right?” she said jokingly but her voice reflected the despair of not being able to find on her Smartphone on where she was nor where she had to go. The wire fence that separated her and the street in front of my house was not visible on her phone. Trying not to laugh, I told her, “If you look up, 20 feet to your left, there is a path and an opening that you can go through.” With a happy smile and her eyes on her Smartphone, she continued her journey on the road back to civilization.
I appreciate the technological revolution. I know what my family across the continent, my nieces, my nephews, their friends, and their friends ‘friends are doing, no matter where they are in the world. I doubt they know that I know.
Most importantly, I enjoy the technological revolution because I love knowledge. I always have. As a child, I used to open big and fat encyclopedias to any page merely to discover something new and interesting. Now I simply have to open the internet and the world of knowledge is right at my fingertips.
Having access to the vast universe of the internet hasn’t diminished my enjoyment of books. I love the feel of paper. I love being able to write my own comments, feedback, or criticism on the pages. I love being able to go back and reread my thoughts even months after I read a book.
I don’t’ think many of my thoughts while reading some articles on the internet would be quite that inspirational. “I can’t read all of the lines because of the advertisement. Didn’t I already read the same information in some other article by another author? Has any editor seen this?”
Sometimes I am lucky and I do find an article that I find inspirational and I actually would like to read more material written by the author. Unfortunately, the internet also appears to swallow up people. Or maybe it is because not everyone is who they say they are. Since both of my life time minutes and my wallet (to pay for a people search) are on the line, I usually give up.
It seems that no matter whether I observe the people walking through our natural preserve or whether I observe some users of the internet, the themes of sameness, connecting, enhancement, and perfection keep reappearing.
I am reminded of the Borg in the Star Trek universe series and it makes me think. If our technological revolution is also our human evolution, I’ll be glad – not to be around for that.