Online. Offlife

As technology exploded over the past 40 years, people at the time new technology predicted how it would impact the future…let’s see how close they were to what actually happened:

– Killer bees were going to invade

– We would all have flying cars

– Pills would replace food

– Computers were going to give us 3 or 4-day weekends all the time(!)

– We were all supposed to be in pastel coloured one-piece suits

…so looking at old predictions about our time now is pretty funny, but maybe let’s assume that we don’t have this prediction-thing down quite right yet.

Social media, mobile devices and TV when and where you want is not the doom of society. It is just that those who now run things grew up with something different (growing up I had 12 channels and a twin brother with whom I took turns to change the channel at the others’ command) .

Kids growing up with this new technology will use it differently, they will figure it out differently, and we’ll laugh at our ridiculous predictions of today.

My ridiculous prediction is not bemoaning the loss of inter-personal connections, but it is about the possibility that people will lose the awareness that they are not the ones making their own choices.

Maybe it is just me, but what I have noticed is that, when I am online, I am following someone else’s path, they are leading me where they want me to go. Sometimes it is wonderful…Netflix, for example, gives you a whole 15 seconds to decide if you want to watch the next episode (of course I will)! Though when I am doing that I am not with my kids, I am not day-dreaming, I am not repairing the leaky faucet.

With simple psychology and moderately good content it is often easier to follow a path of action based on what someone else has laid out for you. There will always be temptation, but it has never been easier to give in to it than when you are in front of a device.

Technology is neutral…there are great things happening in the world, and happening faster because of technology and social media. There are as many bad things too. If we do not keep our heads, we can be drawn the wrong way and not even realize it, and those providing that online content may not realize it either.

The good news is that the world will not be taken over by someone with my 40-something perspective. Those who have grown up with this technology will use it in ways we have not even thought about, and they will keep it in perspective. Maybe they will have flying cars, but I am not sure that computers will be hard-wired to people’s brains, or will become self aware and try to take over the world.

I am happy to drive a car with wheels, and to eat a real, sizzling steak once in a while. I also promise never (ever) to own a pastel uni-tard.

Despite the bleak future painted for us – latch-key kids, TV generation – we sorted out our future and kept it in perspective. I have faith in those that follow to do the same.


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