It’s time to don the tin foil hats, because it’s about to get techno-phobic.
I’m not trying to sound like an old man here, but technology is getting to the point where it both absolutely astounds and completely terrifies me. Mainly though, it’s the latter. Yes, this is about cars. Yes, this is about life.
It’s mainly about life.
The modern world is absolutely amazing. If you took someone from the past and plopped them into today, they would be amazed at what we have achieved. Human beings have achieved things that would’ve been considered to be the ramblings of an absolute mad man 30 years ago.
We have printers that can print objects. We have cameras that can develop photos instantaneously.
We can fit 256 gigabytes of storage into an iPhone that fits in the palm of your hand, when 30 years ago you would’ve needed an entire warehouse of computer systems to store that much space.
It’s genuinely staggering.
Some of this technology helps us further ourselves. We can become better people through it. We can make to-do lists on our phones, which can help us to become more productive. We can download tutorials, discover new things and learn new languages at the tap of a screen, and a click of a mouse.
Some of this technology helps us become safer. Our cars have systems in them now that can detect a crash before it’s even happened. Sensors control everything and can react faster than a human could ever dream.
But what none of this technology can do, is make you feel alive. It makes you feel numb. Connected, yet somehow disconnected. You’re there, but you’re not there. The lights are on – but you’re not home.
Perhaps this for me is amplified, as I like things that are old school. But during a trip in my mother’s 2017 Beetle today after having driven my 1990 Golf for the past month or so, I felt so isolated from the outside world. There’s no feeling of connectivity.
You don’t get the same road feel, you don’t get the same analogue sense that “Yes, I am in control. I did that. That was me”. It wasn’t me. It was me telling a machine to do something. There’s nothing mechanical anymore, and you don’t form the same bond as you would with something mechanical.
When you drive an old car, you feel everything. Modern cars make you feel numb – sensors and computers are controlling everything and you’re just along for the ride. Today we’re force-fed isolation from the real world, and people are starting to forget what the real world feels like.
I’m not saying that we need to take a step back, or that we need to give up on technology or anything like that, because that’s just foolish. Technology is amazing. But we need to control ourselves.
It’s not just cars that are being affected by this though, obviously. It’s people.
I think we’ve all had the experience – you’re talking to someone and they whip out their phone mid-conversation, looking at it, and you can see the instant change in the conversation. The eye contact is gone. The responses go from instantaneous to a second or two delay – not because they’re processing what you’ve said, but because they only noticed that you stopped making noise, and are trying to process something feasible to say – usually “uh-huh” or “yep”, because 99% of the time they can get away with it. They act like they were listening and heard every word, but you know better.
They’re there, physically, but mentally, they’ve been consumed by technology. I’m guilty of it too. Hell, my girlfriend will tell you I’m probably the number one victim of it. It happens to all of us at some stage. They’re in that other world, the world of “Oh sorry, I was just looking at my phone”. It needs to stop, not just for the sake of our minds, but for human decency.
It’s worrying the effect that it has on mental health, as well. I’m willing to wager that there is definitely a correlation between the rise of technology and people suffering from things such as depression and loneliness. People are locking themselves up in their rooms, in their own version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with the wall being built up by YouTube/Netflix binge watching, Facebook “likes” and cancelling plans with your friends because you’d rather stay in bed.
People are alive, but they aren’t really living. I love technology, I love it to bits. It’s helping the world develop in ways that would be incomprehensible to people from decades passed. But remember – technology is meant to compliment you, not consume you.
It’s not the missing piece to the puzzle of you – it might help you find it, but it’s not it.