Human Research Report: Year 3000
After taking my first online college class, I realize the classroom suits me far better than what the world wide web could innovate when it comes to higher learning. Not to knock the prospect of learning at home with the help of a computer; most of our academic work is composed with computers, fine tuned by software, and researched with the help of the Web (has anyone ever thanked Google, Apple, and the world wide web for their college success during a graduation speech? No!). The classroom keeps me motivated, gives me genuine interaction, and most of all, I know my teacher better. I’d rather talk to my professors personally, rather than email them and forget what I asked them when they answer. The best way to sum up my online learning disability is to say: “It’s not you, it’s me.”. Apparently, I’m alone on this. My digital “classmates” seem to love the idea of learning online and have shown their appreciation for the medium in the class discussion boards. They love it! They post their answers on time, give peer reviews on time, they do everything on time. It makes me sick in myself. Kudos to them, for I could not get into it as much as they did, and had the hardest time being “web available”.Our work is very conscious of the possibility that the electronic information age was going to “dumb down” society, turning us into machines that do things, but not think about the things we do. Essays were presented to the idea that the electronic age was going to ruin the act of reading, thus destroying the basic building block of learning. I was happy to come to the conclusion that the computer hasn’t changed the way we read at all. In fact, we read more now than we ever have. What saddens me to the point of this essay is that while we might all be reading on a surprisingly great level, our communication skills, as a human species, look as if it’s receding backwards.
Human Research Report: Year 3000
It’s the year 3000 and the party for new millenium is over. The streets have cleared from the crowds and the colored lights have faded to a flicker. Looks like the predictions Bill O’Reilly made in 2016 were all wrong, and the world isn’t going to come to an end...yet. My work as an anthropologist will continue, as will my funding in the Studies of Human Communication, circa 2000-2020. Humankind is the most intelligent being on this planet, and the most perceptive species in the known universe. My studies have proven this, with most of my evidence being collected ancient tablet computers and cellphones capable of showing me the recorded history of how Man learned to read, observe and report. The puzzle, however, has yet to be solved as to what happened to Man, as I still have no idea as to how this being ever communicated.
This grim decline in social interaction began, somewhat ironically, at the cusp of earth’s last Thousand-year run in the 2000’s. While the cellphone was in use long before as a business tool, the internet was widely growing. The internet was also a tool used professionally before this time as well, but the idea of humankind keeping connected on more trivial levels sounded appealing to the common member of the species, thus a market was created to spread the exchange of information among others to even the most common of humans. The internet began to be used in aiding government and commerce- but soon into the 1990’s, people of any background began to use the computer-driven device to send messages to one another, contribute to the global economy by purchasing or selling tangible goods and services, and even (and mostly) for entertainment. By the year 2002, fifty eight percent of the population in the United States used the internet. Computers made their way into every home, and a vast majority of them were connect to each other, allowing one to interact with the other. Humanity found itself connecting with each other at an alarming rate, but the interaction was all based on written text, so the ideas of chatting and messaging each other lead to a significant increase in abilities and practices of reading.
Reading was an instrumental tool into helping Man reach the point of intellectual heights and in Man’s early years, the practical skill of reading became a common practice thanks to the inventor Johann Gutenberg and his printing press in the year 1440. Reading was, at that point, a skill only the wealthiest of Men could acquire. The printing press and it’s sister of innovation, the media, gave even the ordinary man power over themselves and others, all thanks to the skill of reading. Reading almost became a forgotten art in the 1980’s and was feared by many writers like Mitchell Stephens, who feared the electronic information age would mean the death of reading. He once quoted “Our homes barely make room for reading. Those old islands of quiet- libraries, studies, and dens - long ago were invaded by flat screens and Nintendos” . Advancements in technology, on the contrary, would actually accelerate the practice of reading, making the Man more thoughtful and mentally active. The literary world of storytelling and news media became a mass buffet of ideas and thoughts that would be fed on and repeated for centuries of Man’s history. Man’s ability to speak also made this ability to read and perceive ideas turn him into a social butterfly of things ranging from idle conversation, conflictive political ideologies and nonsensical personal philosophy. All this because of reading.
While humanity began to read at an alarming rate, the ability of writing human language clashed with this- because while humans are of superior intellect, they’re also quite lazy. Mankind has long sought to accomplish as much as they could with minimum effort. Computers were at first used to solve complex math problems or record accounts of numbers. Before long though, Man was using computers to build cars, and erect structures- using less and less physical work. The ages of philosophy and intellectualism faded in the years of 2050 and onward, as humankind eventually preferred to let the electronic information flow regulate how or what they thought. This could explain the use of “text speak”, or at the very least, halfway explain it.
The cellphone was also the sneaky assassin into the minds of Man. Alexander Grahm-Bell might not have known the full power of what his monster would create in the year 1876, but the idea was to transmit and hear a voice through a wire in order to communicate at a distance. This gave birth to Bell’s invention: the telephone; it would revolutionize how ordinary Man interacted with each other. Sure, the lack of seeing the person on the other line was cumbersome, making the stylism of speech known as “sarcasm” a little harder, but that was a problem remedied by man’s ability to speak more loudly and “cuss” more creatively. And with this new splash in the genepool and other recessions in language by the 1990’s, Man was a machine of obnoxious, foul-mouthed perfection. Alongside the vulgarity, Man also sought to tote around their personal drama to all corners of the earth and do this portably. Perfection and self absorption was sought to be broadcast and carried by Man’s own person. Getting the telephone off of wires was truly realized in 1984 by the engineers at Motorola and the concept took off. Originally priced for the wealthy or technologically keen, the cellphone became Man’s personal avatar; styled in it’s exterior by Man’s own personal profile of faux sophistication or honest profanity and programmed to project possible superiority over each other in the form of ringtones that sound like mating calls or challenges. Man replaced his crude cigarettes of the past with a handheld device that aided communication, but did so quite poorly; sometimes never working at all and losing connections due to bad signals or dead zones. Based on my many lengthy recordings, most common conversations amongst Man on cellphones ended with “Can you hear me now?”. Man’s frustration eventually escalated to levels not seen since the Dark Ages.
In the beginning, the phone conversation was to be a brief exchange of information. This was a precedent but not a law. Man took full advantage of the phone and since a cellphone was a telephone at it’s core, anything to talk about, no matter how meaningless, was discussed. The problem arose later that most of the information that was spoken was largely not cared about and most of those listeners evaded those exchanges by not answering. Text messages became a unique way for Man to communicate in 1992, but reached tower-of-babel proportions in 2012 with the estimated figure of 184.3 billion of these short messages sent per month- just in the United States. Texting took up far less time to communicate than talking and were less restricted to just areas of the world with good reception.
Man’s emotions requiring faces to convey were replaced with punctuation characters to resemble basic faces. Interjections, criticisms, and even opinions could be further punctuated with abbreviated codes like “LOL” for “laughing out loud” or OMG for “Oh, my God.” To further complicate things, Man seemed to be confused on an individual level as to what they were laughing about and what God they were referring to, but one must conclude that videos of cats playing piano were the only things to laugh out loud about and they believed their “God” controlled online clothing sales. History of the language of Man refers to this plague as “The Golden Age of Hyperbole”.
Sticks and stones may have broken bones in Man’s run on earth, but his words were never more powerful. Through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, the fuels for Man’s fire to connect with others were there but often Man, in his nature, is destructive and untrustworthy. Simple grammar and writing rules were chipped away as humans ignored capitalization, punctuation, and knowing how to use the words “your”, and “you’re”. Pathologically dangerous and stupid behaviours were broadcast from these social networks, horrible rumors were spread about others and Man began to use its war-like nature to spite others in chat rooms and online forums. Teenagers and tortured souls alike took their own lives, committing suicide because their digitally projected reputations were sullied by “cyber bullies”.
The critical mass of Man and machine communicating with the world was the burden of impatience their networks caused. Clinical Psychologists’ of the time called this addiction to the Web “Internet dependance”. Suggestions to combat this disease of social behaviour, one such suggestion was to “simply trying to curtail the amount of time you spend online”. Man could not stop this though, no matter how hard they tried. The internet was everywhere: at home, on the bus, at work, on the plane, on the train, in the automobile dashboard and the fight against it was futile and lost in 2150. Man was now left a computerized impatient, forgetful and even more narcissistic being.
Merely centuries after the great fall Man, all that is left of the world is a landscape of broken plastic shards, smartphones, and no one to use them but what is left of man, along with myself. Evolution’s strengths of improvement was defeated by a Man that choose instead to breed. And in that experiment, Man put all trust into industry and ignored the natural world. All that remains of the species is a blob-like invertebrate with eyes, thumbs and something of a brain. They phased out their vocal chords favoring instead to type with those stubby thumb appendages. Perhaps, fifty percent of their population would not have been killed in the giant meteor strike of 2200 that none of Man saw coming because they couldn’t look up from their iPhone. Seeing all of this, and studying how Man spent five thousand years “Ogging” and “Ugging” themselves out of the primordial soup, into and out of caves, and building civilizations, only to spend just one thousand years to turn back into an amoeba. It begs to question: WTF?