Overload

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Halcyon days of my youth … I don’t wish to go back, I’m quite enjoying myself in the here and now.  But, Bob Dylan sang it to me when I was a teenager in the ‘60’s … “times they are a-changing”.  And they did.  And, I’d venture to say, faster than they ever did before.  Time and technology have proven to be, in my opinion, a toxic combination.

We left the closely knit extended families who worked together and prayed together somewhere out in the forests and on the prairies.  Now we have the 21stC family.  We zoomed right past the “nuclear family” and ran smack into the “blended family”– relationships complicated with step parents and half sisters and relatives scattered like dandelion seeds on a summer breeze.  Moving to the next town, the next province, across the country, over the ocean, it’s all the same as we hop a plane and disperse ourselves around the globe.  We have greater mobility than ever before.  And, I’d say, less stability … unravelling even.

So to keep up we “multi-task”.  We set the dishwasher going while the clothes spin in the dryer and the vacuum robot performs its programmed rounds while we pay our bills on the telephone and shop on the internet while waiting for the potatoes to cook.  We talk on the phone while we drive, watch movies while we fly, broadcast our news to everyone at once on Facebook.  Email has taken over and letter writing has become a lost art. We talk, calculate, take pictures, send mail, watch television, and make a movie all on our once lowly telephone. Less and less we take time for one-on-one or face-to-face, or heart-to-heart.

We do all this, and we do it fast. Cars go from 0 to 60 in seconds; personal missives and business documents speed from Canada to Hong Kong in the blink of a cursor; planes can cross the Atlantic between breakfast at 7 a.m. and coffee break at 10, and man flies to the moon in a capsule and is home in a week.

Our world has shrunk. News of events that happen in the remote regions of Africa or in the bombed out villages of Iraq or Afghanistan speed through “cyberspace” from the furthest reaches of our world and land in our living rooms, in “high def” colour and surround sound.   The impact of the cyclone in Pakistan, the tsunami in Indonesia, the suicide bombings in Afghanistan … all served up the same day with supper.

Our world has shrunk because of the speed of technology, but our sense of responsibility for family has been stretched out of shape by distance and consequent apathy, and now  it has to be shrunk back to fit society’s need for us to take care of our own, because society no longer has the resources to do so.

Everything is so inter-related that a computer glitch in Air Canada’s reservation system in Toronto can create line ups, long waits, flight delays and cancellations in airports around the globe;   the domino effect … like a house of cards.

What has it taught us?  Instant gratification.  And what happened to patience?  The listing for “patience” in the dictionary will soon be followed with “archaic” and a definition that tries to impart the understanding of the foreign idea of waiting for something.  I suppose anticipation will also disappear – with instant gratification there is no time to anticipate.

Privacy is down to zero and personal rights and freedoms seem to be the exclusive right of the minority.  Anywhere, at any time, someone can make a video of you with their phone and post you and your day on UTube before you get home.

We went from wars of fighting a known and see-able enemy to the technology of missiles that chase aircraft.

From children in happy, healthful outdoor play until the lights come on, to children bound to indoor game-boy stations, hiding from neighbourhood nasties, under the watchful eye of fearful parents.

A better world?  Definitely a different world.

The Daily Post writing prompt is: Overload Alert

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