Change not always for the better

July 5, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Imagine living your entire life and never seeing anything change – nothing.

The same household tools that were used when you were born were still used when you died. 

The clothing fashions had not changed at all. People wore the exact same style when you were ten years old and when you were older.

Nothing new was ever introduced into your life in terms of technology, inventions or ideas.

The life you were born into was the same life you left, and so it was for everyone in the town you lived in. Sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it?

And yet, the vast majority of people who have lived on this planet went through life that way. Nothing ever changed.

If you were born in the year 1000, the height of the historically defined middle ages, and lived a long healthy life, dying 80 years later in 1080, you would have seen no changes in your lifestyle at all. 

Life moved that slowly. 

That’s the way it was right up until the industrial revolution.

Modern life became radically different at the turn of the 20th century. 

For the first time in history people started noticing change by the decade, and rapidly so.

Fast forward a few decades and modern life is changing at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep up with it all. 

Electricity was a huge factor, maybe the most profound change in human history, as it powered everything from radio and TV to all communications devices. It used to take weeks or longer to find out that something had occurred, now you could turn on the radio and find out right away that World War II had started. 

Present day finds us in a situation where change doesn’t occur in decades, it happens so fast that the release of a new iPhone has people lining up to replace the now ‘obsolete’ version of the same device they had only a few months earlier. 

In 1970, authors Alvin and Heidi Toffler published a book title Future Shock, in which they predicted a shift in both individual behaviour and and that of society based on too much change over a short period of time. The book was a huge hit that eventually had over six million copies published and has been translated into several languages.

Their research and theory was based on the rapidly changing decade of the 1960’s. 

For its time the book was remarkably accurate relative to today’s society, predicting such things as automatic production, robotics, and the use of home-based computer systems. They accurately described a shift from a large percentage of people doing manual work to the majority of the population doing ‘brain work.’

The Toffler’s theory predicted how many goods will become disposable as the cost of repair will become greater than the production cost. Think, ballpoint pens, lighters, plastic bottles, and a lot of other things you have around the house.

They also predicted that many goods will become outdated almost as fast as you buy them – see computers, phones, and related products.

Moving ahead, these changes will result in people having more than one career in a lifetime as some professions become outdated and are replaced by new ones. That is happening all the time now.

The theory is all this information overload will directly effect human behaviour and relationships – and it certainly has.

Have you ever been talking to someone who suddenly stops the conversation because their phone is buzzing and apparently the person who is calling them is suddenly more important than you? 

A while ago I was sitting in a local coffee shop waiting to meet a friend. She was running late so I was there for a few minutes on my own.

A young couple, maybe early 20’s, came in and ordered coffee and sat down at the next table.

They both took out their phones, and for the next 20 or 30 minutes, they said nothing to each other as they focused on scrolling down the screen and reading messages or Facebook posts.

I felt like yelling out, “Put down your damn phone and talk to each other!”

I don’t understand the concept of asking someone out for coffee then ignoring your date and spending your time together absorbed in your own little world that is contained on a six-inch screen on your phone while a real live person is sitting across the table from you.

Technology is definitely changing human behaviour, and not for the better.

It’s time to start using your phone as a backup plan, not the primary source of interaction with society.


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