The curse of the Modern Age?

tech-evolution

“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” – Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) 

Dear Reader,

Gadgets are mesmerising, Apps are engrossing, Technology is blinding!

We live in the digital age, an era that is unprecedented. We are blessed with modern technology that gifts us access to (almost) the entirety of human knowledge, wisdom and statistics. With our televisions we are capable of viewing the spectacular migrations of wildebeest in Africa, occurring hundreds of kilometres away.Through our phones, we are capable of speaking instantly with people on the other side of the globe effortlessly and immediately. And with the advent of the app, we are now capable of continually tossing birds and murdering green pigs. Our world has undergone remarkable technological advancement and the increase in complexity is happening at an ever-more quick rate.

“You are what you share.” – C.W. Leadbeater.

The digital era has been very remarkable in its effects for the majority of people, we all have that friend who is shy and unable to speak in large crowds or that friend who is always busy and occupied or sometimes we don’t have any friends at all. Social media and networking has allowed for the development of character, permitting introverts to finally communicate through Twitter and Facebook and release their thoughts comfortably. Likewise, people who are far from friends or relatives can communicate through the ready availability of WhatsApp, BBM and whatever else we use. For the friendless, social networking provides a solace where forums and wikis can become a new home, allowing fringe interests to find their own society. Social media welcomes nerds, fetishists, hobbyists and all kinds of people.

“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but its effects.” – William Fulbright

The usage of digital technology and more specifically, the social media of the 21st century correlates with rising awareness of the global community; social networking, even with the atrocious grammar crimes, has been linked to an astounding increase in literacy. Digital technology has had a profound effect in enabling a more extensive democracy meaning that it is  easier now than in the past, to create and sustain a powerful social movement. Some great examples are the indignados movement in Spain, a popular anti-capitalist grassroots movement who fought against corruption in the Spanish government. Likewise, the Occupy movement that originated in the United States, was given power and influence by its digital presence.  Transparency has developed to the extent where politicians are now subjected to intense online scrutiny forcing democratic practice. It is only in the depths of bureaucracy and state anonymity that any repose can be found for the most venal politicians. Due to the power of the public eye, the state  has chosen to use laws to obstruct our right to democracy. The TTIP trade deal would let corporations sue governments for fulfilling the wishes of their people, yet where is it being discussed? The BBC and Rupert Murdoch won’t say a word! For their interests aren’t the interests of the people, but rather the rich.

‘Distracted from distraction by distraction Filled with fancies and empty of meaning Tumid apathy with no concentration’ – T. S Elliot (Literary Master)

Yet is our technology truly perfect? Can it be said that its impact is free of flaw or blemish? The daunting effect of an inundation by social media and the internet on society. We find ourselves constantly bombarded by indiscriminate advertisement with subliminal consumerism pumped into our heads. The public space has been colonised by brands, bus-stops in London are attempt to induce us to buy more and more. It is estimated that the average Londoner sees 3,500 marketing messages a day and each one is dagger to our self-esteem.

Advertising is not about catering to existing needs, but creating new desires. Not only desires, but insecurities as well, because we cannot desire without feeling like we lack something. Even if you can ignore them, you can’t avoid them.The internet was envisioned as the next public sphere but it has been transformed into a consumerist weapon. Amazon was sued a large sum due to ‘in-game’ purchases that they targeted at children, making a huge profit from the stupidity of minors. The average Brit spends up to 7 hours watching TV, even more frightening when you consider that an extra 2 hours is added when multi-tasking across smartphones, the internet and apps is also taken into consideration.

…And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families..”  ― Margaret Thatcher (Conservative Prime Minister)

Before the digital era, people spent time with each other. People socially interacted through shared cultural events, such as the running of the bulls in Spain and through work. People have always interacted regularly, tighter communities meant that their sense of society was very high. Nationalism itself is a recent invention, prior to it, many people felt loyalty to their ethnic group or region was more important. When you lived, breathed and worked within your community with no digital escapism, people were forced to spend their time talking to neighbours and making friends in ways we seem to have sadly forgotten. We now have people we solely communicate with digitally and we now have relatives that we avoid, to watch movies on Netflix.  Our lives are filled with antipathy; on buses, in corridors, on trains, we solve an imagined sense of awkwardness through technology: headphones, games or kindles according to one’s own taste. As a society we’re flawed;  our minds are constantly occupied and we can no longer appreciate the necessity of boredom.

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time.” – (A wise man)

Boredom isn’t a bad experience; taking the time to be bored can actually make you more productive in the long-term — not to mention more creative, happier and less stressed. It is a moment of tranquility useful for clearing your mind of thoughts accumulated during the day. The world needs more boredom. In our world of constant pre-occupation and relentless consumerism we must change; becoming social, more congenial and becoming people who live, not just exist. Our job as the next generation is to generate our own happiness, utilising technology as a tool to that end but being aware of its limitations.

 Thank you for your time. 😀

For more news on the anti-advertising movement -http://www.brandalism.org.uk/

Hopefully, I didn’t bore you!

Tito Mogaji-Williams

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Should footballers aspire to be positive role-models?’

The 2014 Brasil World cup has served as one of the greatest expressions of sporting fervor in an age. The viewership is unprecedented, with several football matches such as the game between the USA and Belgium, receiving millions of viewers. In the U.K alone, 14 million people watched the horrors of Brasil vs Germany. That’s up to 20% of Britain! With these gargantuan viewing figures, footballers have been thrust into the forefront of the media, with the savagery of Luis Suarez, the lachrymose reception to Neymar’s injury as well as the adulation of the up and coming star James Rodriguez.

Now, the question is, with the wealth, fame and social power that footballers have accumulated. What is their role in society, are they simply entertainers on the pitch with no moral substance? Or are they agents of change in society who with their considerable influence over society, choose to make the world a better place? Pope Francis certainly knows where he stands on this debate, when he proclaimed to the teams of Italy and Argentina ‘you are a role model for better or for worse’. So does one of Brasil’s most famous teams, Sport Club Recife, who led a brilliant crusade against organ waiting lists in Brazil, reducing waiting lists for organs to almost zero in some areas. This Brasilian team has shown the powerful impact of a concerted campaign a just one high-ranking football club.

Footballers play an important formative role in the minds of boys. A survey carried out by the Institute of Education in London, showed that a third of young male children sought to be footballers.  But what those that actually mean? I would suggest that with such a significant percentage of young boys aspiring for the footballer lifestyle, it is clear that fame, fortune and glamour are what our society is propagating as the ideal life. This is completely wrong, however, the pervasiveness of this corporate footballer culture is visible in all the bastions of our youth. In schools, the Match Attax trading card game is ubiquitous and the incessant sound of football in every play-ground is the norm. But what happens when children start imitating these footballers, for better or worse? Maybe it results in children saying  ‘I’m going to do a Suarez’ before biting each other as a child in one primary school actually did. With the prestige footballers have, surely when Joe Hart screams fury and abuse at a poor ball boy, it is a cause for concern for all those watching. Nor is the dishonest play that footballers like Robben seem to do regularly; diving unnecessarily and unscrupulously.

People have to realise that by venerating footballers in our society to the extent where they encompass the aspirations of our youth, we are generating hundreds of failures aiming for a goal (no pun intended) which they cannot possibly achieve. Even if they did become famous, obviously, becoming rich beyond comprehension has harmful effects on people. The whole Paul Gascoigne matter with his descent into addiction and mental deterioration highlights the darker side of wealth and fame. The unfortunate incident Rooney had with the prostitute Helen Wood is another testament to the risqué antics, young footballers have behind closed doors. Though who can blame them, with the money they are given at such a young immature age, the majority of people would act similarly.

We need to accept that footballers are regular people who come to play from different backgrounds and cultures with a diversity of experiences. It is simply true that some footballers are meant to be Scholes’ and some footballers to be  Suarez’s. Footballers have an important presence in our  society, through the hearts and minds of men, women, girls and boys of every race and religion. As said once by a great man, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’ Footballers have a duty to the millions who analyse their every  step, shot and, sometimes, bites, to play respectably and with the spirit of the game.