Monday, March 24, 2008

Next Stop: The Future!

Many of my friends are not here. They are scattered about the globe in Australia, and India, Korea, and Montana. It's easy to forget how far away they are when you see an updated Facebook status or a slew of photos across your computer screen. What did we do before the digital age? When your friend said, one day, "Hey, I'm going to Australia for a while!" did we just retire to a dark corner and weep, as if they'd died and might never be seen again? Did we wait weeks and months for letters in the mail, wondering all the while if we'd heard the last of them? It sounds dark, but really, I'm not sure I could handle that. A time so slow, boats insteads of jets, candles instead of compact fluorescents.

There was a time when anything north of Bloor was cottage country. If you lived in Cabbagetown it would take hours for your horse and buggy to take you to the wilds of Rosedale where your summer home sat on the edge of uncharted territory. The world has gotten so very small. Does it ever make you wonder why old people seem to walk around in a befuddled and frustrated state? That will be us in 50 years. We, who were born into a world without the internet, will look back on all of this someday and marvel, wondering how the moon became so accessible. A weekend jaunt to Jupiter might be possible, and we'll say "When did the galaxy get so small?" Our grandparents have finally figured out the VCR and are now fighting to grasp the infinite wonders of email, though they came up during a time when light bulbs were a luxury. How confusing! How terrifying!

In the last 25 years, just my own lifetime, everything has changed so dramatically. The whole world is at our fingertips, literally and otherwise, we have more information than we could ever sift through, and every opportunity we might ever want. If I had enough money, I could be in Korea this time tomorrow (or would it be yesterday?) Anything, at the drop of a hat.

I am constantly stunned by the advances we've made. I went to a record store a couple of years ago and when the young salesperson handed me a wireless debit machine, I nearly fainted! I said "Wow. Do you remember when we didn't even have debit?" She smiled, rolled her eyes, and said "No." She was 18 and couldn't remember a time without it. I'm sure she thinks of Jim Carrey like Cary Grant and Mariah Carey as an aging pop star's grandma. She probably hasn't experienced the devastation of a tape being eaten by your stereo, but I'm sure there's a modern-day equivalent. A corrupted MP3?

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have my international friends feel so close, happy the world is such an intimate place. But it probably makes us lazy, as a people. When everything is right there, we don't reach for things. We don't extend ourselves beyond an email or a quick Wall Post. If we had to take a horse and buggy, we wouldn't go anywhere. Once I discovered its utter convenience, it took me 5 minutes to replace a lovely walk to the record store with a click on iTunes. And there was a time I loved strolling those aisles more than almost anything else.


  1. When everything is right there, we don't reach for things.

    Well put.

  2. You know, this is about to have a huge impact on education. I remember having to memorise the locations and capitals of every country on Earth. It seemed like somewhat useless information then, but today, it's downright ridiculous - I can pull out my iPhone and look up the capital of Qatar whenever I want (or could, if I had one). Why bother learning things when the information is always present? Tradition?

    Time would be much better spent teaching people how to find and analyse it - how to think critically, in other words. But you know what they say about leading a horse to water ....

  3. "Time would be much better spent teaching people how to find and analyse it - how to think critically, in other words."

    I agree whole-heartedly with this person. People don't know how to use information anymore. It's sad, because we have access to soo much, and we don't even know what to do with it.

    I miss you (Jason, I mean, not the person above me).


    Entitlement + Lack of Critical Thinking = Really Shitty 14-20 Year Olds Living Amongst Us At The Present Time.