Change Calls Constantly

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1983- My grandfather wrote this note to me:

Happy I am now that I’ve seen the world change from log house to stately walls.  I’ve seen horse and buggy to car and wheel.  I’ve seen time go from ‘judge the sun’ to digital.  I’ve seen my life pass before my eyes. Grandpa.  At the time, my mom (Grandpa’s daughter) mused at how much change Grandpa had seen in his lifetime and that she would never witness the vast changes he had.

2012- I asked Mom to reflect on her musing of the ‘80s.  To paraphrase Mom: Wowzers, was I wrong!  We have seen even more technological progress than Grandpa did!  I’ve seen telephone go from being a party line restricted to the wall. You would physically turn the crank on the phone set to reach the operator.  You would ask the operator to speak to Jane, and the correct Jane would be connected in a click.   It was a local exchange—everything was local.  I’ve seen telephones move from crank to rotary to touchtone to cordless to cellular to some kind of smart thing the kids speak of these days that I have no idea how to operate.  In my day, operating a computer meant taking 3”x6” paper cards and punching strategically placed holes in the cards then inserting about 50 of these cards into a building-sized computer that ran the program (which, incidentally would merely provide consolidated data).

2012- I asked Dad to comment on what he’d seen change before his eyes. To paraphrase Dad: Things have moved from real to virtual—lives, money and relationships.  We no longer have acres of land on which we can feed ourselves self-sufficiently.  We have 400 square feet of condo space within which we play Farmville on Facebook, and some of us have to Google how to grow an egg.  Grow an egg?  Exactly! People live on projection and credit and alleged worth.  It’s virtual money with virtual value, and bankruptcy is a solution just as getting another life is a solution while playing online.  But we’ve lost a lot of human interaction and the joy of life.

If you haven’t seen Louis CK (one of my favourite comedians and philosophers) talk about how Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy, I urge you to watch this!  http://youtu.be/8r1CZTLk-Gk

2040: What will the changes be that pass before my eyes?  Will I have a bumper sticker that says: “My other life is on the internet”?  Will I even have a bumper to put it on or will I be transport-mutate-catapulting myself everywhere by then?

The advances in computer ware and virtual relationships I’ve seen in a mere 15 years is staggering.  We don’t even use the conventional phone much anymore.  Who still has a landline?  Our personal cell phones (read: computer) are used for calls probably 10% of the time.  We compute.  We text.  We update our status.  We comment and like.  Every 6 months we need to update, up-convert and up-power.  We gain a thousand potential friends but lose accessible time to actually spend with them.  We are wide-eyed and enamoured with the devices we hold in our hand.  But will we eventually dismiss the true life forces that surround us?  If we misstep, gravity takes the EFF over way faster and more powerfully than a Terabyte of G-Force or a video-gone-viral could ever do.  And it doesn’t rely on a power source or clear connection.  It is its own self-sufficient force, a constant authority that is un-up-convertible and un-bankruptable. In 2040 will we dismiss the flowers, those adaptable and real, oxygen-producing blooms? Will we no longer bow to soak in the bloom’s fragrance then reach with a fleshy hand to pluck a stem and present it with a genuine smile to a true-life friend?  After all, it’s way easier and more efficient to just click on an emoticon and send to an entire friend list. I dunno.  I wonder what our relationships and objectives will be in 30 years.  I’ll report back around 2040, okay?

Love, KAT 🙂

My website: www.KatLeonard.com

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2 responses

  1. Kat, enjoyed this thought provoking post! The meta-scientist or philosophical scientist in me loves this! I have often wondered what it would have been like to live in, say, medieval times. What the notion of technology was in those days when mysticism and religion were the so-called science of the times. Not that those beliefs don’t exist now, but we live under a substantially different paradigm. Imagine living in a time when the only things that flew in the skies were birds and stars. You’d really have a different understanding of time it takes to travel, for example.

    1. I think of that often, Karyn! Have you ever read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? 🙂

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