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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The (de)Evolution of Electronics

I'm going to try something different today. A short story. Fiction.

I was inspired last night at dinner with my friend and roommate, Kelly. Both English majors in college, we tend to see the world in stories. And last night, we saw the makings of a potential story. After pondering the situation for a while, we decided two things:

1. The hilarity of the situation, with a little tweaking and imagination could make this a great story.


2. It fits the letter E.

The backstory of this is that we saw a child of about seven dining with his father. We were happily talking away and filling in the happenings of our weekend to each other. In contrast, once seated, they figured out what they wanted off the menu, then the father proceeded to tell his son his schedule for tomorrow. Then, he handed his son his touch screen phone and the kid turned it on, found a video, and watched it through the remainder of dinner. They didn't speak at all after that.

Based on that, here's the story Kelly and I came up with.

The year is 2025. Two girls in their early thirties are sitting at dinner staring off into space. They are not talking to each other. It is obvious they are good friends, however seem to have nothing to say. Maybe they have been together for days on end? Maybe they are just at the lull in their friendship where communication is not important.

But maybe, just maybe, they do not know how to communicate over a meal.

Once they placed their order, a family was seated at the table next to them. Once the family ordered, they began to talk. They each told the family with excitement about their day, the information gathered in school, the stresses of work, what they were doing over the coming days. They even talked about current events, what they had read in the papers, seen on the news, the latest books they were reading. They seemed to have an endless stream of conversation.

This irritated the girls.

“Can you believe this?”, remarked one of them. "When we were kids, we didn't have to talk at dinner. We all had our gadgets and were completely preoccupied. No one had to even look at anyone else.”

“I know. I was just thinking the same thing. How obnoxious it must be to have to think of things to talk about. I was just enjoying how we always sit in silence.”, said the other.

“Oh how I miss the days of oblivion, when mom was on the phone and disregarded everything I said and did because she was too busy to notice. How dad was always checking his email. What happened? How did we get here?”

How they got there is in the last twenty years, technology has taken a hit. Smartphones, devices, and electronics in general had hit the proverbial wall. There wasn't anywhere to go but down. And backwards.

The absence of portable electronics has made it necessary for people to communicate again. As demand rose for more more more in our society, computers had to get bigger again, not smaller. Cell phones that did too much took up too much power and now have to be plugged into the outlet of your car. And the fatter our society as a whole had become, the more impractical touch screens and small buttons became, thus making everything larger in general so we could type with our fat fingers.

Gone are the days of instant access to anything and everything. And it has caused yet another generation gap. The mid-20s to late-30s crowd does not know how to talk to each other, or the people around them. They stare into space, longing for the days of Angry Birds and texting the person across from them. The late-30s to late-50s crowd can't stand not getting that email the second it is sent, and doesn't quite know how to function professionally without knowing what is going on on the other side of the world right now.

What is going on in Hollywood? Who is in rehab? Who is going to jail? Who hooked up on their latest movie set?

We have to wait until we get home to find out. OH HUMANITY!

In contrast, the younger people are talking. They are excited and animated when they speak to each other. They relay stories back and forth. Their stream of thought and communication is constant and seemingly never-ending. They talk with their hands. They talk and talk and talk. And their parents can't figure out where they learned such a thing.

This generation will know how to find information out for themselves. They will know where to look and how to access it, without relying solely on machines to do the work for them. They will know how to spell and punctuate and think. All for on their own accord. Their parents and teachers think them to be geniuses.

The two 30-somethings (and most of their generation) are sad and depressed – they feel they are the ones who truly know you don't know what you got till it's gone. They do not understand this new generation of thinkers. They live lives of silence, unable to communicate their thoughts and feelings into words because they have always had a machine to do it for them.

This is the beginning of something I think I will continue writing. I think there is more to this, more to find, more to write. It's an interesting switch on reality. I do miss the days when I had to wait to get home for a phone call. The days when I didn't panic because I don't have service for an hour inside a cement building.   The days when I didn't jump because my phone rang.  When I could listen to the radio for the entire car ride.

What do you think, fellow bloggers? Can you communicate with your friends without a machine? Are you amazed at the lack of communication in public exhibited around you?

1 comment:

  1. Not so much these days, for the simple reason that my friends are far away from me. But my new friends, I definitely try to see regularly.