Friday, January 23, 2015

100 Years

            Yup, it’s 2015. There are no flying cars. No hover boards. No aliens living next door. No colonies on the moon or mars. For that matter, we don’t even have a space program. We don’t have cities under the oceans. We aren’t even exploring the option of trying to find alternate ways to live without fossil fuels.
            The movies, books and comics of our youth captured our imaginations with all of these ideas, our joy and hope was fueled by the creations of others and those inferred promises of a fantastic future. Yet, here we are today. Sitting inside of mass produced homes, watching and reading even more fantastic tales on different types of plastic and glass boxes. As our minds are distracted with these great tales, the reality of our lives and the lives of humanity as we know it are blissfully forgotten.
            Are our inventors and scientists distracted as well? Are they still the dreamers they once were as children? Do they still have the curiosity and wonderment that comes with unbridled passion for discovery? The joy and fascination of learning from mistakes? Or have they become immune to knowledge through the spoon fed Pablum of celluloid and digital media? I hope not. In the grand scheme of things there has to be a few dreamers left with the ability to see past the distractions and instead, focus on what fueled their minds in the first place.
            Yes, I know I’m focusing on some negative things right now so I think I will change tack and look at things differently.
            Lets see; where were we as a collective body of humanity one hundred years ago in 1915.
            The main source of inter-city transportation was by horse and carriage. Automobiles, while on the rise of popularity were still too expensive for most americans. Inter-continental transportation was by train and it took at least a week, with many stops along the route. The telephone was around yet not in every house hold and if you lived in a rural community you could forget about electricity. Which means, no television. We were still twenty one years from the first broadcast of that magical black box.Yes, many of the large cities had subways and elevated trains but for the most part, people had none of the luxuries we take for granted. Even indoor plumbing was an issue. An issue I won’t even get into here.
            Fifty years ago… let’s see, 1965.
            Tons of advancements, since 1915. After all, we’d fought in two large wars, won them both and the industrial revolution had been both fruitful and kind to us. And yet there was a cold war brewing that would last for years. Everyone seemed to have electricity, plumbing and cars. Mass transit across the continent had been replaced with flying machines and railroads were scrambling to try and make up for lost earnings of pedestrian transportation. Phones were everywhere, in homes and booths. On the musical front, jazz was being replaced by rock and roll and the British invasion of music was filling the ears of teenagers everywhere. Our country was gearing up to go to the moon in a race with the Russians and heroes were made of the brave men who volunteered to be the first to break free from our planets gravity. Heady times indeed.
            Twenty Five years ago… 1990.

            Pagers were little black things worn on everyone’s hip or stuffed inside of their pockets. Although cellular phones were starting to quickly replace them as the accessory of choice. Music, once only purchased on vinyl albums, then on 8-track taps, then cassette tapes were now being offered on little plastic disks that didn’t wear out. Any show you wished to watch on television but were unable to see live during its broadcast could be recorded on a vcr. As a nation, we traveled faster than we thought we ever could. In cars, planes and even trains. NASA was sending shuttles to space on a regular basis even though we had given up on going back to our satellite. Lastly, the cold war was over and democracy seemed to be spreading like wildfire throughout the earths countries. Lastly, the internet was starting to become a thing people seemed to like because it gave them something to do with the computers they had been told were the wave of the future during the 1980’s.
Ten years ago… 2005.
            Cellular phones are common place. The latest and greatest device on everyone’s hip was called an iPod. This little device could store a thousand songs for you to listen to at the touch of your finger. Dial up computer connections were starting to disappear. People were dropping home phone lines like a bad habit. Cars were sleek, fast and affordable. Air transportation was a bit sketchy though. You know, because of the attack on the US by terrorists. Which means, we are at war with people who hate our consumerist lifestyle and mentality along with reasons I can’t fathom. VCR’s were starting to disappear from households because of the digital revolution. Also, our space program was on its last and dying breathe.
            Over all, we’ve come a long way in a hundred years. Hell, in ten years we’ve come a long way. Yet, what does it all mean? Are we better off because of our comforts? Our ability to make life easier and less stressful? Ha. Okay that last sentence just made me chuckle. For you see, I don’t think our lives are less stressful now than a hundred years ago. Or fifty, or twenty-five or even ten years ago. No, I think with the knowledge and advancements we are making, we are also causing stress upon ourselves. A stress that derives from the fact that as we grow older and the younger generations follow behind us, we lose sight of who we once were and how we once lived.
            Sure, as the poet said “The good ol’ days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”. But, do we know what tomorrow brings in the form of changes and how to handle them? No, I don’t think we do. I also don’t think we can truly understand the impact of the advancements we are making in our lives until we get a bit further down the time line of our lives.
            I’m sure some men and women, men and women who are much wiser and smarter than I, understand the repercussions of what is being done in our society. Yet I don’t think the average person does. For example, I have a teenage daughter, she is leaps and bounds ahead of me in understanding how things work in this day and age. Which makes me wonder, when she is forty-seven and has kids, what will her future look like? What will her kids, my grandkids have in their pockets for electronic devices? Where will the internet be? How will music sound and what format will it be in? What sort of modern day devices that you and I use today will become the archaic device of the future that one will only be able to see in a museum or on the internet? Will we still be at war? Will our cars fly? Will trains be around? Airplanes?
            How will society look and interact with each other on the day of my expiration? Will I still be blogging about my life, my choices and my questions? Or will everything have been answered in ones and zeros?
            It’s a hell of an existence we lead. Our communication went from face to face to tapping glyphs on a smart phone. Our news used to be printed on dead tree pulp and now it’s just black text on a white screen. Maybe they’ll get rid of the screen and we will just have everything fired across the airwaves while little receptors that have been placed on our skulls pick up those waves and we can mentally choose what we want to read or what we want to send to others. If that is the case, I vote to not do that sort of thing. Too damn creepy if you ask me.
            For now, I just chose to live here, now, in this moment and enjoy what I have strived to create and cherish the efforts of those who came before me.

Have a great week. 

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