Look at what technology has done to us
As the 21st century dawned on us, it unceremoniously enmeshed us into this cyber era. As the tectonic clash continues to rapidly grow in the Silicon Valley region, the evidence of this cataclysm can be felt miles away in South East Asia.
Singapore like all major cities has kept up with Joneses in terms of the tech trend, and the presence and excessive usage of smart phones and tablets across the MRT and bus networks is one such testimony to the fact.
While these 21st century devices have been essential in reducing the drudgery of a long commute, their ubiquitous nature on the public transportation system invoked a different reaction from a tourist friend of mine.
A sigh was followed with a response of “gone are the days when you stared out of a window in a bus, or at a face in a crowded train and tried to make a story out of it. The pleasures of travel have indeed changed”.
Onto a different train of thought; a couple of years ago, I failed to convince my father in one of my futile attempts to encourage him to hop on to the cyber express and log on to the virtual world of Facebook.
He obviously protested citing time constraints, a sheer lack of interest in what he described as ‘juvenile whims’ and stating his friend’s circle was vast and transcended all virtual boundaries for over decades and was one that existed prior to the telephone era, and it would go well beyond the dot com burst.
While his reasoning seemed sound and unassailable, a sudden epiphany began to haunt me.
It occurred to me it was no longer just about one’s personal inclination in keeping up with the latest trends in fashion, business, lifestyle and technology. It’s become almost essential to do so.
Without much time for contemplation, I immediately rebutted giving one such example - stating in today’s techno-centric environment, a particular individual could be the only one in a 3 km radius to quote the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ epic balcony scene in verbatim, but he would be brandished ignorant in a second if he didn’t know what a trend on twitter was.
Conventional knowledge may not have altered to a great deal, but the means to obtain such knowledge certainly has changed (given that a kindle might sell faster than a hard bound novel).
Just like that proverbial trend on twitter, hypothetically a neurosurgeon for his immaculate medical prognosis and finger dexterity may be scoffed at by a few adolescents if he pleads ignorant to not knowing what an ‘Apple id’ is, or how to download an app from the ‘Android market’ (recently rechristened the ‘Google Playstore’), or even how to navigate around ‘iTunes’.
It’s not strange that an editorial appearing in a well circulated daily stated that in a decade or so – illiteracy would even include tech illiteracy. Although nothing per say to do with not knowing a coding language, but not being tech savvy in the dot com era would be nothing short of a handicap.
It’s no wonder that words such Google, Googling or Googled are now being unabashedly used as verbs, with ‘Facebooking’ not too far behind.
This new non twitter trend may just leave cynics and others who hail from a conventional old school of thought miffed and might even make them lament at the changing times, but then again sadly it is indeed all about keeping up with Jones’.
Akshobh Giridharadas, ESPN Star
Email Akshobh: email@example.com