I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
So wrote the late great Douglas Adams, in (according to teh internets) The Salmon of Doubt.
It’s one of those great quotes to remember if you ever hear or read someone lazily complaining about technology ruining everything that was great about life (or, heaven forbid, catch yourself starting to think that way…)
Today’s Age has one such example: “Stop filming with your smart phone and start living”
The writer offers a varied list of complaints about how people today are doing it wrong, with all this technology they are carrying around allowing them to do stuff like film gigs, or have fictional relationships with Scarlett Johansson. Even, gosh, not talk to strangers in cafes:
Today, I watch as people sit in cafes alone, with headphones plugged in, eyes fixed on a scrolling personal tablet or phone screen, cocooned from their surrounds and people next to them. They’re chatting online to people they’ve never met in person.
Yeah. Because before smartphones I couldn’t stop talking to strangers whenever I was in a cafe on my own.
At least I’m not staring at strangers eating their lunch. Maybe you’re the weirdo in this scenario…
I was going to write more about this, but as with most things in life, there’s an XKCD comic for that. It makes the point far, far better than I ever could: