By Baby Tuckoo
Ours is undoubtedly an age of total and true hyper-connectivity.
Those with gadgets can’t walk out the door or take a bath, or do anything really, without glancing periodically and frequently at the glowing screen of some flashing device. Good? Bad? Neither?
This hyper-connectivity is fast breeding generation upon generation of disassociated and physically isolated, independent individuals not requiring human interaction and, at times, unable to hold a conversation or perform tasks or activities without reaching into their pockets to message, text, tweet or facebook some often trivial personal (or work related) information to friends and/or associates. The mundane and the urgent become almost completely indistinguishable from one another and one is often unable to prioritise or focus clearly in this quagmire of correspondence.
Psychologist and author Hugh Mackay states that the paradox is, “that all this brilliant connected technology creates the illusion that it’s bringing us together, but it’s keeping us apart, and making it easier for us to stay apart”.
Connection is, according to Mackay, the lifeblood of human existence. “Communication is how we love, nurture, create communities and generate civilised societies,” said Mackay. But connection is so much more than words or visuals – Mackay says it’s about posture, dress, smell, expression, about where you are and what you are doing, and who you are doing it with. Mackay says that if people are not connecting face to face, then they are losing 50-90% of the communication. (Reference)
Further he says: “The key to effective communication is not technology, its listening. “Listening is what connects us; it’s what provides empathy and understanding.”
All this connectivity is becoming distracting and a barrier to honestly connecting with others.
“Modern society and technology limits our connection to the natural world but it also stops us from being connected with ourselves”, says Mackay.
He also states that for most people connection with yourself comes through creative self-expression. “When you lose yourself in the creative process, you find yourself.”
In a similar vein and another goddamn bugbear of mine: “The over-abundance of information!”
This overload, instead of enhancing in many cases, has been detrimental. Knowledge is no longer prized; “Oh, we can just look that up on the internet!” Learning has all too often now become a hindrance to getting things done “on the fly” and ASAP. Learning “takes too long”. It is seen as a chore rather than the tool it is; a tool that exploits logic, reason, argument, deduction, inference, and any number of intelligent means to arrive at conclusions and/or establish whether hypotheses or premises are indeed correct. The vast amounts of information that people can retrieve from the net and are able to store on devices with mega-storage capability has also resulted in the subsequent sharp drop in value of information.
Google has now become the defacto modus operandi for those wanting to know anything. And Google’s first result is often a Wikipedia entry. We have entered the age of “scrollgaze”. A reality that exists where individuals mindlessly watch newsfeeds, Twitter timelines and status updates that are often designed to simply elicit “LOLs”. It won’t be long before universities change their “Reading for degree” to “Tweeting for a degree” and I am afraid that from that point on… it will literally be all downhill. The slippery slope.
Stephen Colbert has the following to say about Wikipedia:
And I honestly cannot say it much better than how he frames it.
Which brings into question, as Colbert points out, “Reality… Hmmm??!” Well, here’s the wiki entry to help get your juices flowing.
Reality in this day and age is a strange and fluid thing. And for a species that is still questioning existence, it is odd that we can glibly use the phrase: “reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined” to wrap up and summarise the idea. Who are we to try define what reality is, when we’re unsure ourselves of our own place in that construct? Social media, online-life, gaming, fantasy/reality breakdowns, etc… all of these things and more have changed what we consider reality to be, immensely. People are now able to connect almost too much to one another’s minds, emotions and inner-thoughts.
But then again who the heck am I to say anything? Or to argue? Perhaps this is just another evolutionary step we’re taking. Who knows? But I will say this: “The mind is a terrible thing to waste”. And to my mind… there’s plenty out there being wasted. It’s a powerful thing, this hyper-connectivity that we have at our disposal. It’d be an awful fucking shame to waste that.
And on that note. I’ll leave you with The Overload by The Talking Heads to help you mull over these thoughts:
Lol. Omg. Haha. Roflcopter!
In the cold, cold night a boy was birthed. A flash of white noise; nearby televisions sparked; then returned to normal. Viewer’s wrongly put it down to electrical storm interference. The boy entered the machine. He’s been trying to escape ever since.