Technology: Peak or Plateau?
Our current generation is considered to be at the peak of technology, the threshold of advancement. But is this really true?
Consider mid-15th century France. Anyone who has read “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” knows that the country’s clergy believed the Antichrist had come and world was soon to end, all due to the invention of the printing press. Now, ideas that were not Biblical or related to the promotion of religion could circulate through the masses. Knowledge would become accessible to all.
Or consider the United States government around the time of World War I. The US Patent Office was going to close down in 1918 since mankind had believed that all that could have been invented already had been. We thought we had reached our threshold to technological advancement almost 100 years ago.
So why should we believe that now? We live in an age where we consider ourselves to be in the climax of our lives; however, what if we are going through a dark point, and one thousand years from now, this century is considered to be the “Dark Century,” similar to how 500-1500 A.D. is often termed as the “Dark Ages.” We are only holding ourselves back if we consider ourselves to have reached our utmost creative point.
Yet all this technology that we have created has taken a very interesting affect on our human rapport: it has created a society that focuses on the individual rather than the communal.
On the bus, in line at the DMV, or walking to class are all inevitably situations where most of us are checking phones — smart or otherwise — for texts, missed calls and the like. Some of us check Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other networking websites for another dose of connection to the people that we know or don’t know.
Remember the Windows Phone commercials, where they marketed their devices in a way that they encouraged using their phones less and spending more time in the “real world?” The irony there is that smartphones have effectively complicated our lives, and some of us don’t even realize it.
Just think, devices market themselves on simplicity and ease of use. Need to check your emails on the go? Well, now you can. But really, stop to think about that. Is that really making your life simpler, or is it now simply an avenue for your employer, mother, friends or whoever else to expect a reply from you no matter what, no matter where you are? That sounds like unnecessary stress.
Think back to a time before modern technology. Humanity had significantly more leisure time before society turned toward a system of hyper-productivity and a constant mentality of “I need to be doing something or else I’m lazy and won’t be able to pay my bills.” Think of the time you’re on your phone checking your Twitter feed, or on your laptop watching television. Now, imagine if you spent all that time doing what someone in the 19th century would have done: perfecting their musical talents, writing abilities or whatever it was their passion was. The possibilities are almost endless if you consider the sheer amount of time we use thinking that we’re simplifying our lives instead of unintentionally complicating it.
So no, we should not fear that we have reached the end of an era, that we are the last humans to ever live since inevitably we cannot get more creative or better ourselves past this current point, think of the Black Plague in the mid-14th century, which wiped out two-thirds of the world’s population. But we should fear in the manner of our advancement and whether or not our technological connections are actually bettering our societies.
The bad, as well as the good, comes and goes, and if history is any testimony to the future, we will still be here, kicking and fighting, creating much more than we currently think possible. We just need to make sure that we fight for a better future for our creativity.
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