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Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Relativity Of The iPhone Part 3

Electronic devices expand the amount of time available. Their very speed of comm (communication) speeds things up, expands "free" time, and "shrinks" the distance in time between places in the world.

If you happen to be an alienated person, not just a teenager trying to avoid adults and their discontents, the time of alienation has magnified, the places of boredom have increased.

What is clearly of paramount importance is what we fill the excess time with.

Let us think about that.

It brings to mind an old e-gadget, the telegraph. In many movies set in the Old West, the telegraph runs alongside the railroad lines that span the country; settlers move in, cattle are herder, cowboys go into town... and the native peoples are subjected to genocide.

I do not mean to connect genocide and the telegraph. The dislocation of native populations started back around Andrew Jackson's time, well before the telegraph, and the Indians were turned into refugees herded into refugee camps called reservations, and these reservations created a vast Gulag system across the face of the Old West.

Connections? Doubtful, although speedy comm may have helped move soldiers around to the right hot spots of native disaffection. Yet there is no connection between electronic tech and genocide... even though there was that history written about Tom Watson and IBM and how IBM sold business machines to the Nazis, who put the punch-card system to good use in organizing their Final Solution.

Mankind is good and evil. If there are e-gadgets, they will be used for good and evil.

Still something like a shadow of ever-biting conscience nags at me, for if the time available to do good and evil is increased, then just how bloody important is it to try to ensure that more good than evil be done in that newly created time?

How do we fill the Time?

Not very long ago, people wrote about the new leisure society, a society where work hours followed a trend to decrease, wealth would be maintained with decreased effort, and great princely suns of leisure time would confront us. Our biggest problem would be, "What do we do with all this free time?"

That was just before it became the norm for wife and husband to both work just to keep afloat, and one of them possibly had to take a night job in order to pay for pre-school for the children.
In this case, we filled in the increases of time with stagnant wages, loss of jobs, etc. and managed to deflect the bane of leisure.

Consider the electronic item Television.
It created fast entertainment, giving us more free time.
In the old days, to entertain ourselves we had to do things like get everyone together, pick up teams, play lengthy games that might go on endlessly through nine innings or four quarters. Endless. Television allowed us an entertainment break that only took an hour or so.
Great free time abounded.

Only we filled up the theoretical time freed from the time needed for Recreation with more TV.
We filled up the TV with what Newton Minow of the FCC called "a vast wasteland".
Television gave birth to cable - which was free back in the beginnings! - and cable was a protean birth that looked around at the immense playpen it found itself in - vast amounts of Time! Cable gave birth to the 24/7 News cycle plague which oppresses the viewer even more than lack of news ever did.

Those kids in the photo - they are good kids. And they are clear proof that good kids come from good e-gadgets, right? Yet there will be many years ahead of those kids and what stories and influences will affect them?
Will they hear stories of heroes and heroines, honor and fidelity, truth and fortitude, or will the stories be of conflict, of despair and end-of-time horror, of violence and hatred? What is the Mix of good and evil? I think the balance is tipped to evil in the present day.


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