It's day two with my new iPhone. To many of you, operating what amounts to a hand held computer comes second nature. I can find my way around an engine pretty well, and have successfully undertaken some electrical wiring and plumbing, but computers and wireless devices are not exactly my strong suit. The iPhone by it's nature is a visual tool, at least insofar as control, so that helps. So far so good. As I am at once amazed and humbled by technology, I figure I'll devote a few blog posts to the topic. There was a book that came out years ago called "Future Shock", written in 1970 by a man named Alvin Toffler. Computers in those days took up entire rooms at IBM, but this guy had a keen eye. His book in essence discusses the rapid changes endured by society, and whether we as people in that society are able to keep up with the pace of change. In his day, Toffler discussed "information overload". Does anyone think we are perilously close to that point today ? The issue of progression and development has been with mankind ever since we crawled out of the cave. From a bearskin clad role as hunter - gatherers, we made the transition to the agrarian lifestyle. Then came villages, basically co - ops, and we graduated from packs and prides to societies made of many packs and prides. Society on the whole has ebbed and flowed, splintered and knitted a million times since the ancient dwellings in Mesopotamia. Nowadays, it is seemingly connected by a wireless communication web that spans the planet. Most tech savvy people will say at this point, "What do you mean, seemingly connected ? It is connected !". Is it really ? The internet, and hand held media, it's newest avenue, is widely credited for spurring on the so called Arab Spring last year that ousted longtime Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. It was an almost instantaneous groundswell, furthered by many people, many young people, receiving and transmitting data, opinion and intent in an immediate fashion. Thousands upon thousands of people showed up, made their plea, and Mubarak was ousted. The wave then spread to a degree throughout the Arab world. It might have been a bit too "instantaneous". Exit Mubarak, enter Muhammad Morsi who has granted himself absolute rule. The firestorm of protest flashed out in all its twitter glory before it had carefully considered it's actual course. There are things that should take time and there are things that need to take time in life. Reality is not virtual, and my fear is that an entire generation will grow up sadly mistaken that all it takes is a tweet. What do you really know about me from a tweet ? What do you know about the plight of a homeless person because you watched a YouTube video ? Granted, you know more perhaps than you would have otherwise, it's a good first step... but don't delude yourself into thinking you have experienced the entirety of an issue because - bam - it's available in the palm of your hand. To do so is a slippery slope, and is fertile ground for Stalins, Hitlers and Mussolinis to sway the masses. Be careful is all I'm saying. A kids movie in fact laid it out nicely. In Star Wars Two, The Clone Wars, a young Obi Wan Kenobi is looking to get information on some sort of space dart with mysterious markings. He is puzzled as the markings do not appear in the Jedi database. He seeks out the help of an old friend, an old alien mine prospector now working in a diner. The gruff alien says to the young Kenobi, " I thought you Jedi would know the difference between knowledge and wisdom". Should you seek out gruff aliens for some good grounded advice to check your facts ? Basically, yes. Use the tools of the new age to gather all you can, but when it comes time for a life or death decision, for the stuff that really matters.. seek out age old experience as a back up. Please don't get me wrong. Although I joke about being a low tech middle aged male, I have a healthy respect for the capabilities of technology, especially in the realm of education. The programs that can help kids learn these days are amazing. It's just that maybe you should make sure Junior and Jane still know that a skinned knee hurts, and there's no app to take away the sting. If little Johnny is playing video games and blasting the invaders without a thought for the value of life, maybe you want to consider a real life bb gun, under your supervision of course. When Johnny bags his first Blue Jay he will learn that taking a life is an irrevocable transition. He will learn there is a consequence to action, and one cannot simply re - boot.
Take a look at this snippet: one of the guys who started it all, reflecting on his accomplishments in old age: