As I observe humanity, moving in ever-faster and faster paces, racing racing to achieve ever more at dizzying speeds even as technology threatens to outpace our very mental capacity, something is amiss. Some deeply held idea that we seem hell-bent on fulfilling, a frantic technologically-powered promise, has been broken.
Whether we realize it or not, underneath all this amazing technology we are creating, is a subtle but powerful promise: that we can accomplish more, in less time, and thereby achieve a greater quality of life.
Oh, at first the idea is seductive. Let's build a machine that can do the work in half the time! We can work in the morning and play in the afternoon. This works great in theory, except it is rarely practiced. No, once that amazing whiz-bang machine is built, it's run 24/7, so we can product a gazillion times more in a fraction of the time! By all rights there should be a lot more people loafing. Or at least, having a high quality of life. Only one problem with this theory: it doesn't work, and I hereby declare the digital promise officially broken as of October 2010.
How is it that our very lives are powered by machines that admittedly double in speed every 2-years, yet as a nation we are poorer than ever, tireder (yes, tireder) than ever, and less able to enjoy life as we know it? Who doesn't walk around with more lines on their foreheads even as the world races by? I don't know many.
Ladies and gentlemen, there's a conspiracy afoot. Yes, really. As a society, our job is to care about each other and improve our quality of life personally and collectively, yet the very technology that has promised to provide this is doing just the opposite. In fact it's aggregating wealth into fewer and fewer hands, and in a very real sense oppressing the rest.
Can you really say you are more in touch with the wonder and joy of life? Are you more fulfilled this year than last year? Do you have better connections and personal interactions with others, and are you calmer and more at peace with yourself and the world?
Of course, I'm not suggesting that technology ever could, or should, perform these functions for us. In fact, I'm suggesting they CAN'T! Yet we walk around as if the "next great thing" will somehow magically make our lives better. Well I'm here to tell you, it won't. It can't. It never will.
There's a reason cliche's exist: it's because there's truth to them. Folks, the greatest things in life really are free, and available at every moment. When was the last time you genuinely stopped and allowed yourself to simply be present, to be here, in the moment, with yourself and life? To watch the sky, walk on grass, or laugh at your dog? The greatest imaginable riches are priceless, and not for sale.
So as the news eggs you on to yet another upset as you hear about the latest stabbings, murders, suspects, tornadoes, and potential scientific disasters; as the world bombards you with yet another gazillion messages that you are not OK and you need more products, more ideas, more help, faster computers and younger-looking skin; as you hear that this or that agency or government are up in arms over another silly or not-so-silly spat; as that gnawing feeling in you that "something is missing in my life" rises up, simply stop, look, and listen. Is it true? Or is there more truth in the sunset than a year of news broadcasts? Is there more fun in rolling down a grassy hill than watching the latest sci-fi flick on your iPhone?
Technology is overtaking our lives. And today, I declared the digital promise is broken. But don't let that mean you go unfulfilled.