The Steamroller of Progress
As I was sitting in the waiting room at the oral surgeon today (yep, there again — I could probably be mayor of this place on FourSquare if I actually used FourSquare), I managed to look up from the Cracked article I was reading on my iPhone long enough to realize that there were, indeed, other humans in the waiting room as well. As I waited for the shock of that revelation to subside, I noticed that the lady sitting across the aisle from me was texting from a really old phone.
Now, it wasn’t a Motorola Micro-Tac or anything. It was a smaller phone with a slide-out keyboard, so it couldn’t have been any older than, say, six or seven years. And still, the words that popped into my head were that’s a really old phone. Six years ago, I looked essentially the same as I do now. I haven’t gotten really old in the interim. So why did I find myself wondering how this lady could survive in today’s world with such ancient technology? It wasn’t even a smartphone. It wasn’t even a Blackberry.
I read a theory that the only way most humans can deal with the huge ramp-up in technology over the past decade or so is to treat it as if it was a completely normal development — as if it’s no big deal. And that’s exactly what I think my brain was doing — it treats my iPhone 4 as something akin to the base level of normal technology, not as a fantastic device my puny brain couldn’t have conceived of ten years ago. My Kindle Fire is just a thing I read books on, not something that would have made someone my age in the 1970s shit himself with awe. And that’s our defense mechanism — greeting fantastic advances in technology with a halfhearted “meh.”
Ever catch yourself doing that? If you do, just think for a moment how far we’ve come just since you were a kid.