“Our entire universe is probably in a tiny glass jar somewhere, placed on a shelf in some alien child’s room as a science fair project that got a C minus …”
Leave it up to a meme … the new technological bumper-sticker … to tutor us about our probable insignificance and immaturity.
It’s smart to be reminded of how dumb we are.
It seems we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Chugging down this technological speedway … and some of the most fragile passengers haven’t any seat belts at all.
At the moment “… it’s hard to know how many of us in this perpetually plugged-in society have a serious problem.”
Well, at least that’s a start. But that hasn’t slowed us down one bit.
We’re outfitting kids with technological gizmos we don’t even understand. Giving them super-powerful thingamajigs we think of as toys. But they’re not toys at all.
Our homes are rigged like technological opium dens. High-tech paraphernalia everywhere, doing everything. We command it all by voice or touch. And it conveniences our lives. A point-and-click existence pre-programmed almost thoughtlessly.
And therein lies the danger.
Kids are famous for finding new uses for usual things. They turn pots into drums, dogs into horses, and curtains into capes. Why shouldn’t they do the same with these whatchamacallits? Why wouldn’t they partner them with their own imaginations?
But are they mature enough for all of this? Ripened enough to slot it into their lives as it should be? Lots doubt that … and our own experience makes us doubt it, too.
Some professionals are candid with parents … “I tell them, you’re the drug dealer … You need to understand what you’re modeling to this child.” And parents nod … and agree … and then okay the latest smart-phone upgrade. For the whole family.
Hmmm … old advice for new sins … ignored again. Not much different than the teenage beer lecture while sipping a Martini.
And then there are the schools.
Teachers will soon function more like R2D2 … and file cabinets have been replaced with data dump-sites. Lessons are downloaded from some far-away curriculum depository. Quizzes, tests, and on-line involvements are assessed and clumped together to form digital student profiles of the “guinea pig generation”.
There are some who even want body language recorded and inspected for this or that. And others are now scanning lunch-trays for data crumbs.
And students … “kids” in real-life speak … are provided with finger-print access to a never-ending array of screen-challenges. Programmed adventures they’re sure to flip away from their intended purposes … because that’s what kids do.
But whether at home or at school, reality will be further blurred as these escapades morph into escapes … separating kids from the usual human experiences that round out a person.
Those interactions that grow a personality and refine a temperament and a personality.
They just might become that “Lost Generation” who will shrink the universe so that it does fit in the jar on the shelf … and then inflate their own significance way beyond reality. And that is an unhealthy place with scary consequences.
All of this should make for some especially uncute kids. And an unbeautiful society. A nightmarish cosmos of thumb-pressing Pavlovian proteges unable to break free from their absorbing screen-world.
We know the short-term effects. It’s the long-range outcomes that will transform this society into some freaky, asocial, anti-interactive collection of creepy adolescent gamers and cyborgs on their way to droidhood.
In the years ahead … as screen time increases and more gadgets appear at home and at school … it will presage a cultural change not many have envisaged carefully enough.
“We’re largely flying blind because we’ve done so little research…” that “… it’s hard to know how many of us in this perpetually plugged-in society have a serious problem.” Oh, boy!
Homes will become isolated islands surrounded by technological moats. Unique will be the child who exhibits even the slightest social grace and poise. Owning a personality might become a status acquisition … likely nurtured by academies specializing in such mysteries as conversation, charm, and passable witticism.
And social status may be measured by one’s fearlessness in the face of large gatherings of people that might require dinner-speak, archaic table-manners, and synchronized choreography syncopated to live music … that dying art of “dancing” … which will be as rare as a meteor fly-by.
Perhaps we should S.O.S. Rod Serling and fetch him back from his Twilight Zone resting place … so he can script a less frightening climax than what now seems inevitable.
So the future is under construction … and too few actually understand what the hell will emerge. But it’s going to make some already old authors … think Huxley and Orwell … seem like a modern-day Nostradamuses.
In the meanwhile, double-think your own choices as we all hyper-speed through this queer age of progress. And forgive yourselves. Your parents once jostled your world with electric typewriters, princess phones, and blaring eight-track tapes … and you turned out alright. Didn’t you?
I so wanna be wrong about this. Real wrong.