Saturday, November 20, 2010

In The Really New World

I was reading an interesting article the other day about the Catholic Church and its encouragement of Roman Catholic bishops in the United States to go forth and blog, tweet and preach on the “new digital continent” of social media. It really got me thinking the other day about technology and its effect on our lives. Has our world really changed so much in the past few decades that the Church feels the need to start a twitter account?

The truth is that we have. The world has changed culturally more in the last 40 years than it ever has before. Advances in technology before the last 40 years were only steadily groundbreaking. Older generations had the time to adjust to the new and innovative things being tossed at them. But now, in the digital age, the 40 and over crowd is struggling to stay afloat among the clutter.

Take a look back at what we have done in the last 40 years. The computer was born in the 1970’s. Then, the magical data-storing agent was accessed only by Bill Gates and super geniuses of the like. But by the time the 90’s rolled around, the World Wide Web gave birth to an infinite number of possibilities in the realms of communication and connectivity.

Fast forward 20 years to the present and you get whiplash moving from Web pages accessible through a graphical user interface and basic email, to the current use of over 92 million websites and counting online. And in an instant, the Internet condensed our huge world of billions of people and made it flat creating a connection, accessed by our fingertips, across the span of our planet.

Want to know what that guy, you met at that one party ten years ago, is doing right now at this moment? Why not stalk him on Facebook. Do you want to know every thought that Brittney Spears is thinking throughout the day? Why not follow her account on Twitter. Would you like to know how to make quiche at this very second? Just whip out your Smartphone and Google the recipe in your kitchen. Heck, watch someone prepare it step by step right in front of you on YouTube.

We can find the answer to any question that we might (or might not) have thought of by simply typing it in the search bar. The internet is so ingrained in our lives that we would all fall apart if it ever disappeared (or seemed as though it has disappeared). Y2K scare anyone?

The digital age has morphed the world into something so unrecognizable. It’s even apparent when we see people locked up for 20 years, who were recently released from prison after the dot-com boom, so incredibly confused at what the heck happened during the time that they went away.

We've even changed the way in which we react to things. We rather tweet about someone passing out in public than running to that person's aid. We document everything that we do, every second of the day, and display it on the inter-web for the entire world to see. Are we narcissistic, or has technology changed human behavior permanently?

Our livelihoods have been flipped upside down as we accommodate are swiftly evolving technology. Fifty years ago, a college level communications class would have never dreamed of electronically interacting with their fellow students outside of the classroom in a personal, yet public, blog. Technology has, and will always, drastically change the way we live our lives. And maybe a few years from now, I’ll be texting my confession to my priest instead of heading for the confessional. You just never know with this new world in the digital age.

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