Concerns About Advanced Technology and the Direction of Modern Society
It is a crazy world we live in today. I’m sure many who were born in the last twenty do not see the craziness that I see; their perspective is completely different from mine. You see, I was born and raised before this technological explosion that we have seen in the past two decades.
This writer remembers party telephone lines. This writer remembers black and white television and only three network stations, and this writer remembers physical exercise as the preferred way to while away some free hours.
Come to think of it, this writer remembers obesity being the abnormal rather than the norm, and this writer remembers when personal, face-to-face communication was preferred rather than Skype and Facebook.
Times, they are a’changin!
THE TECH REVOLUTION
Of course, technological advances have been a part of the worldwide landscape all during my lifetime, but for the purposes of this article I want to concentrate on three particular advancements, namely cell phones, the personal computer, and the internet.
The first demonstration of a hand held mobile phone occurred in 1973. The device was a Motorola and it weighed 2.2 pounds. We have come a long way in the ensuing forty years.
At about the same time, Hewlitt Packard demonstrated the first personal computer, and by 1982 Time Magazine selected the personal computer as Time’s Machine Man of the Year.
By 1969 the first Apernet was developed, the predecessor to today’s internet system. By the early 1990’s the worldwide web connected the entire world.
FAST FORWARD TO TODAY
The statistics are mind-blowing to say the least. Consider these figures:
· There are 245 million internet users in the U.S. alone, or 78% of the population
· There are 2.5 billion internet users in the world, or 34% of the world population
· In 2011 there were 6 billion cell phone subscribers in the world, or 87% of the population
· In the U.S., 32% of computer users spent from 1-3 hours per day on the internet
· In the U.S., 17.5% of computer users spent from 3-6 hours per day on the internet
· In the U.S., 7.7% of computer users spent from 6-10 hours per day on the internet
· In the U.S., 12.5% of computer users spent over 10 hours per day on the internet.
· In the U.S. there are 740 billion text messages sent yearly, or 4.1 billion messages per day
Yes, the statistics are mind-blowing to say the least.
Family values and technology? Strange bedfellows
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ONE OF MY CRAZIER DAYDREAMS
I am a writer, and as such I have a rather active imagination. During one of my voyages inside my mind I was wondering what would happen if suddenly the technology disappeared. What would happen if all cell phone signals were blocked, and what would happen if the internet crashed?
I can sum up my answer in one word: PANIC!
Am I being unreasonable? I think not! As a society we have become dependent on the cell phone and the internet. They are as much a part of our everyday lives as breathing and eating. The statistics do not lie.
I purposely did not include television in this discussion because, despite the millions of hours spent watching television, people are able to function without it. However, that is not true of the internet and cell phones. Think about it for a second and tell me that I am wrong. I dare you!
Sure, we could continue breathing and eating if those two technological giants were to suddenly disappear, but what of our collective psyches? How would we face and react to the sudden disappearance of our primary forms of communication?
Shut down the internet and the financial institutions and market would crumble. Fear, doubt, and distrust would be the watchwords of the day, and mankind would time-travel back to the days of cave existence.
A silly daydream, right?
Think again! Technology exists at this very moment that is capable of crashing the worldwide web and blocking all cell phone transmissions. That is not science fiction but rather reality!
SO WHAT IS THE POINT BILLYBUC?
I am not some disaster theorist. I do not live in an apartment with windows blackened and tin foil wrapped around my head to block incoming wavelengths. I take a shower daily, and I am reasonably centered and in balance with the natural flow of life. I do not lie awake at night worrying about the CIA or Homeland Security, and I certainly don’t lose sleep wondering if the Chinese are preparing for world domination.
I do, however, worry about the direction we as a people are heading, and the direction that industrialized nations are taking. Let me explain why.
I believe nations that are too strongly dependent on one economic endeavor, or are too dependent on one technological advancement, leave themselves vulnerable to the vagaries of fate. History will support this concern of mine.
For many years the United States was an agricultural society and its economy was, for the most part, based on farming. Then along came the Industrial Revolution, and farming fell by the wayside and industry ruled the roost. We poured all our economic efforts into being an industrial giant, and the economy flourished, and then……
We lost our stranglehold on the world economy, and other countries caught up to us, and jobs went overseas, and suddenly hundreds of factories had boarded up windows and hundreds of thousands of workers were on welfare and then……
Our President tells us that we must now concentrate on being a service society, and we must train our workers for tech jobs, and those industrial jobs are never coming back, and then what? What happens if we base our entire economy on high tech jobs and it fails because of a new shift in the economic landscape?
I am reminded of that old saying of not putting all your eggs in one basket.
AND ANOTHER CONCERN
Yes, I have another concern! I have major problems with a citizenry that spends so much time on the computer and texting on cell phones that they cannot communicate in any other way. My prediction of panic should the system fail is not unrealistic. Modern society would basically shut down if cell phone and computer use disappeared. I think that is a frightening scenario.
It is one more reason why I believe that returning to a simpler life is the only logical course of action. I have lived a majority of my life without cell phones or computers and I can do it again. Can you? Within three years my wife and I will be debt free and rapidly approaching the day when we are off the grid. Our footprint on this planet will be as negligible as we can make it, and that means that we are protected from many, many worries regarding the economy and the state of world affairs.
I sleep well at night knowing that we are three years away from relative economic freedom.
To those parents out there, let me ask you how much time your children spend watching television, playing on the computer, and talking on their cell phones? If your answer is two or more hours I have concerns. The real world is not on television, nor is it on the computer; the real world is outside your front door, and that is where kids need to learn about life.
Could you function comfortably without a computer or cell phone for a month?
IN TRAINING AND LOVING IT
Bev and I are in training for a future of our choice. We are growing more and more of our food. We are selling off all unnecessary possessions. We are paying off debt. In three years we will be able to walk away from the craziness of consumerism, and in essence we will return to a life that disappeared in this country a couple hundred years ago.
Can you imagine having no bills each month? Can you imagine not being dependent upon the actions of politicians and corporation CEO’s? Can you imagine living a life that involves interacting with people face-to-face rather than by technology?
We can imagine it, and we are almost there, and I can’t begin to tell you how good that makes me feel.
The disaster scenario that I dreamed up will probably never happen, but that doesn’t mean that the current direction of this country and its inhabitants is the correct one. The further we distance ourselves from each other the worse we will be as a nation.
We need to once again learn how to interact with each other on a personal basis, face-to-face, before we completely forget how its done.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)