“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)
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!