It is a new world

What are we? Do we still understand ourselves? Communication and even more so – the means of communication forms the basis of any society. Without communicating we wouldn’t be able to hold cohesiveness of any group of people. Be it a nation, any civic group of people or even family. There where different ways of communicating between individuals over the millenniums. But it was always based mainly on interpersonal level between two individuals. The notable difference was only in the public or artistic spheres where one would proclaim his/hers message en masse. Even the advent of modern technology in late XIX and throughout the XX century did not change that.
The telegraph, the telephone were just an extension of spoken word or written letter. Than came radio and TV. I would argue though, that even radio and TV were mainly directed to individual listener/viewer. It is true that the message went to millions – but it was constructed in such a way that an individual person felt it was meant specifically for him/her. The best way to understand that paradigm would be to observe a schizophrenic watching and interacting with TV . (I, for one, always believed that schizophrenia is not a mental illness, but just a parallel form of ego). That is symptomatic of taking that message the way it was meant to be – as an individual exchange of information, a talk of sort between two persons.
And Internet came along the way – it changed everything. Not right away, mind you. But internet and entire ‘virtual existence’ open the way for new inventions that are changing the rules of the game called ‘communication’. Remember the first, balky cellular phones? It was still nothing but a telephone, just using different technology of transferring the message. Few years later and modern day cellphones really shouldn’t be called a phone anymore. It is a personal computer, telephone, radio, tv, camera, movie camera, recorder, compass, watch, a map, shopping mall (that thing that replaced shops and stores), library – well, almost everything. In a virtual world. World of quasi existence. One that slowly replaces the actual one. Not in a ghoulish, horror-like way. No, rather unassuming, slowly, but surely. Two or more people waking or sitting together and communicating with each other or with another group of people somewhere else without talking to each other. Or, more precisely, talking to each other via cellphones. At the beginning it was frown upon as sign of bad manners, faux pas of sort. Not anymore. It is the norm of generation of teenagers and young adults. Printed newspaper, if not delivered through place of employment or free of charge, is hardly ever bought anymore. Books could be read by thousands via Google version, Ipod Tablet or Kindle. But that is still just changing the means. What changes the concept is the emergence of everybody talking to everybody all the time without talking to anybody in particular. It is the so called electronic social media. The Twitter, Facebook and other programs designed to reach at once on a semiprivate level a group of people. We are all an open book. Exposed (often literally) to the entire world. Or to anyone who cares or gives a , well, hu-hu. It breaks the traditional links that bonds any group of people. Establishes parallel way of being in touch with each other. Virtual, therefore not quite real way.
Without looking into each other eyes it is easier to say things, easier to say things that might not be true. It is easier to lie, to cheat, easier to hurt. Easier to escape responsibility. Easier to care for someone without really caring at all. Emotionally cheaper. Life becomes a Monopoly game. Virtual world offers virtual loves, friendships. And a strong sense of voyeurism. Nothing really exists therefore nothing needs to be private, discreet.
It scares me. And because it scares me, I retreat into my own self, start avoiding actual friends, people – for they might be a part of this ‘conspiracy’ and try to lure me into that virtual world. And, paradoxically, most of my contact with the outside world becomes limited to electronic exchanges. Isolation breeds isolation. As with any fear – I understand that it is irrational. That most of my friends and Friends are still from generation similar to mine. Yet, understanding fear and abandoning it are two different things.
So how the coexistence of this two worlds will it resolve itself? I think that the answer is obvious. After all: historiae est magistrae vitae (if history really teaches us anything). Thus in not so distant future the virtual world and virtual way of communicating will replace most of the real world in human interactions. There is no other way. For while we will coexist in the same way as our grandfathers still used horses along automobiles. Than a horse become a sign of either eccentricity or sign of special occasion and social status. If I will live to that time it might mean that I will finally assume social status. Hmm , not all will be lost, then?

About Bogumil P-G

publisher, essayist, poet lived (and born) in Poland, later England, Italy, presently in Canada
This entry was posted in reflection on culture, this & that (English) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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