“Have we all become so isolated, so lacking in social connection, so busy staring into our devices, that we’re forced into a relationship with a disembodied algorithm? Is that humanity’s final chapter?”
These are some of the questions posed in a recent SMH column, by a writer I’m quite fond of (although don’t know personally). But I don’t agree with everything he says, and on this particular matter my thoughts are, “Who the heck cares?” Here’s a unique and controversial idea – what if we just take care of our own business?
I feel like a broken record when I say this, but I’ll say it again anyway. We (hopefully) get approximately 80 years of life on this planet. Despite the fact it’s the longest thing we’ll ever do, it’s still just the blink of an eye. Why fuss over how other people choose to spend their time?
People go to restaurants, for example, and get upset about the other couples who have their head shoved in their iPhones during the whole meal. “Oh, isn’t that silly, they’re not even talking to each other!” Well, isn’t what you’re doing by getting upset about it equally as useless?
People get upset over other people’s selfies, or food pics, too. “Oh my gosh, someone is spending their time in a way that I wouldn’t spend my time! This offends me greatly!” So, rather than choosing to waste time taking selfies or pics of their food, they’re wasting time being offended by it.
It reminds me of that famous George Carlin quote – you know, the one he never actually said. It’s called “The Paradox of Our time”:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little,
drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too
little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our
possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and
hate too often…
George Carlin’s response to this piece as it gained momentum on the internet was as follows:
One of the more embarrassing items making the internet/e-mail rounds is a sappy load of shit called “The Paradox of Our Time.” The main problem I have with it is that as true as some of the expressed sentiments may be, who really gives a shit? Certainly not me…
Another problem I have with “Paradox” is that the ideas are all expressed in a sort of pseudo-spiritual, New-Age-y, “Gee-whiz-can’t-we-do-better-than-this” tone of voice. It’s not only bad prose and poetry, it’s weak philosophy. I hope I never sound like that.
The point really isn’t whether someone else’s behaviour is good or bad, right or wrong… rather that if it isn’t affecting us whatsoever, then who the hell cares?