Have you been asked the time when there is a clock on the wall in plain view? Well, members of Generation Next might only be able to determine the time on a digital clock, watch, or cell phone. As we progress, are we losing something in the process?
In this brave new world of technology, smarter might be equivalent to limited. A fact made crystal clear last Saturday when a college student in an Atlanta hair salon, admitted that she did not know the time on an analog clock. The question immediately arose as to whether young people could actually spell and speak correct English with the advent of texting and social networking. Moreover, is accurately reading the time on an analog clock or knowing proper English considered necessary today?
Marshal McLuhan, in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, suggested that technological innovations should be understood, not in terms of their content, but in terms of how they change society. According to McLuhan, for example, “the development of the automobile reduces the need for a walking culture, which in turn influences the development of society as a whole. McLuhan also warns us of the dangers of over-extending technology. When a medium like the automobile becomes over-extended, the resulting amputations (carbon emissions, obesity) may outweigh the benefits of getting places faster.”
Take a look at some other innovations:
- Z3 – the first general purpose digital computer – 1941
- Earliest form of the Internet – 1969
- Email – 1971
- Personal computer – 1974
- World Wide Web – 1989
- PDA – 1990s
- Cellular Phones – 1984
- Wireless networking – early 2000s
- HDTV widespread public application mid-to-late 2000s
- 3D cameras became popular as the rise of 3D cinematography exploded late 2000s
- Transformers-Dark of the Moon– 2011 WOW!
Discussions in hair salons aside, even hook ups in metro Atlanta McDonalds and Starbucks along with a multiplicity of other places, offer increasingly indispensible links into the electronic superhighway. It is ironic that Aldous Huxley’s novel, “Brave New World” although written in 1931 depicts some alarming trends that can no longer be cited as futuristic. Huxley feared those who would give us so much would reduce us to passivity and egoism.
It just might be time for both Generation X and Generation Next (Y) to go “hum.”