Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing?

My ancestors packed up and left London in January of 1666, and arrived on some Virginia coastline by March of the same year.  The six-to-eight week journey meant surviving mostly off heavily salted pork and beef, some boiled vegetables, and marginally tasting water.  The toilet was mostly a bucket and an rag to wipe with.  Their accommodations were harsh and unheated.  When they finally did land....they were put up near the bay in some non-descriptive house and accepted whatever was available.

Today, I can board the jet in London and make the trip to Dulles in roughly eight to nine hours.  I'll sit in some half-way decent seat and watch two or three movies to entertain myself during the flight.  I'll have a tasteless piece of chicken with some soggy noodles, and guzzle it down with a French wine, and then later sip off some French glacier water.  If I do need to use the toilet....it's fairly clean and sanitary.....with recycled toilet paper, and some soap and water to clean my hands afterwards.  The temp will never go lower then seventy-degrees or higher than seventy-six degrees.  Other than the seventy-five minute wait for some TSA geek to swipe my passport against his scanner or possibly losing my baggage.....there's not much to get frustrated about.  I'll get into a shuttle bus and be taken to the local Holiday Inn and sleep quietly on an outstanding mattress for eight hours before resuming my journey the next day. I'll have crispy bacon for breakfast, along with some fairly delicious pancakes, and sip some freshly brewed coffee.

Three-hundred and forty-eight years have passed.  A significant amount of technology development, innovation, discoveries, and changes in commerce have occurred.

I was reading a piece last week that an individual suggested that we've reached an era where we really need to sit back, pause, and try to grasp what we've done and where we actually stand.

The fact is.....if I got this weird idea in my head.....I could actually take out my credit card today....plot some trip to the Isle of Tonga, and leave tomorrow.  The flight there, the hotel stay, the rental car, and the boating excursion could be arranged in less than an hour.  I could pop over to a local shop in town....buy the twelve clothing items required for the trip.  And tomorrow at around seven in the morning....board some flight in Frankfurt to start this two-week trip.  Up until twenty years ago, it might have been impossible to consider the trip that I had just described.

My brother, if he got some weird idea in his head....could go out and purchase sixty farm implements related to the pre-tractor era (meaning pulled-by-a-horse-or-mule), within a one-day period.  In fact, he could view the items via Ebay....note their condition by the picture....and then call the guy from six states away, who might be actually standing in the middle of his cornfield and answers via his cellphone.  He could arrange for the sixty items (from sixty different owners) to all be delivered within the next week.  Unique paint for each item as part of his master plan?  He could probably pick a one-of-a-kind paint color that is only manufactured in Coos Bay, Oregon, and have it delivered to Bama in two days by Fedex.

My neighbor could come up with a fascination of Brazilian women.  He could go Brazilianwives.com and spend an afternoon filtering out the unlikely gals and finally come to find this Amazon-looking gal....six-foot-four-inches....and has a degree in pine-tree-studies.  She likes humor....doesn't smoke....and would be agreeable to wearing a thin bikini outfit whenever out in public.  The recruitment and period leading up to the marriage will only take six weeks.

A guy in Bama who has never done a transmission job in his life.....will log onto Youtube and find a four-hour video where the whole process is explained in detail for a 1978 Chevy pick-up.  He'll move his sixty-inch TV to the garage....and quietly watch the process on TV and conduct the whole job by himself.

The truth is.....a massive amount of technology has come upon us and we've failed to grasp it.  We haven't sat back and asked ourselves....is there a point where we need to stop and think about this?  Are there any ethics that we are missing?  Are we getting into deep territory by recruiting a Amazon-looking wife who dresses in a scantily fashion?  Might I be making a stupid mistake by dreaming up a Tonga vacation in sixteen minutes?  Is there a way to delay my brother if he got the idea to build up an entire collection of horse-pulled implements in a matter of half-a-day?

I no longer carry a map around in my car.....I carry a GPS and I have to admit in the past year or so....I just don't get lost anymore.  To have suggested to me two decades ago that I'd never get lost again or carry maps in a car?  Well....it's kinda amazing.

I sip, as my preference, French glacier water.  Tap water is ok, but Evian Water is pretty tasty.  To have suggested two decades ago that I'd drink mostly only bottled water.....only drawn from the Vinzier Plateau of France.....well, I wouldn't have believed you.

I carry a cellphone around with me and can contact anyone in the world in a matter of seconds.  If I observed a unique car or an unusual statue....I can take the picture and send it around the world in a matter of seconds as well.  If you'd said that to me two decades ago.....I wouldn't have believed it.  I can order a pizza while sitting in some park in Wiesbaden, and have the pizza delivered to me within thirty minutes.

If anything....we are now walking at a faster pace toward something that we cannot imagine today....yet will likely exist within twenty years.  There's no doubt that I might have my doctor services handled by a Chinese guy named Wang, who I Skype with and have a device in my house to test me for various things to let Wang know my condition.

I expect most cars manufactured within five years to have some device to alert the cops, the fire department, or the garage services folks of a "problem".

I expect some art software and printer to exist....where I can take a picture of my favorite landscape and have the software interpret it in the mind of Van Gogh, da Vinci, or Monet....to print out a large copy of the landscape for my living room.

I expect half the residents in Alabama to be self-brewing their own beer within two decades....even if they live in a dry county.

I expect drones to be a regular part of our lives within the next decade.  CNN will likely have a dozen flying around the US and provide live feed to their viewers.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this.....you have to settle back and wonder about advancements and where this all leads onto.  Will we have so much technology in our lives....that we aren't able to appreciate much of anything?  To me.....it's an interesting question.  

No comments: