The Anachronism

I’m feeling more and more like an anachronism. The things that I think are important seem out-of-date and not in-sync with technology and our app-based culture.

I like slow things—books, conversation, food, bikes, and black & white movies. I’m not so big on Facebook, Twitter, and a culture with an attention span of 10 seconds.

Innovation, early 20th century style.

Innovation, early 20th century style.

Reading about the past, and prescient thinkers who accurately sketched out what life would be like in the present some 25 or 30 years ago (or even further back) indicates that Americans lack the capacity to change their trajectory, no matter how detrimental their track might be. That sums up the span of my life, demonstrated by history’s arc back to my time of birth in 1962.

As I think about these things and many other matters, I’m less sure about what’s right and perfect. And again, this puts me out of step with the masses—who have never been surer that their opinions and actions are right and justified. Even worse, technology gives them all platforms to spew their drivel.

Of course, the same applies to me. Except writing a 200-word post like this one is torturous, and seems like an exercise in futility.

4 thoughts on “The Anachronism

  1. “Of course, the same applies to me. Except writing a 200-word post like this one is torturous, and seems like an exercise in futility.”

    I share your feelings. “Progress” has given us the ability to have our own little platform here on the netz and yet…the masses still look to Facebook-filtered “news” for their “facts.”

    One day I was lamenting the modern world and progress and how I wished I was born at a different time, maybe a time when I could could be a housewife and find some well-made leather shoes. The friend who was subject to this dirge responded and praised the progress of modernity. How women no longer died in childbirth and everyone lived better lives due to penicillin and antibiotics. And I could see her point, but it seemed like something was lost to make such giant gains.

    On a lighter note, since cleaning out the garage for the “yard sale,” I’m inspired to start doing some “garage parties.” We’ll talk about it the next time I see you.

    • The “progress of modernity” is something that Postman touches on in Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, which I am currently reading.

      @JAB It would be wrong to suppose that technology hasn’t delivered benefit to mankind. Technology has been a blessing for sure, but Postman (and others, like Ellul, Mumford, Oswald Spengler, and James Bell, to name but a few thinkers that didn’t succumb to techno-utopianism) also recognize the “burden” of technological progress, too. He goes on to talk about the “one-eyed prophets” who only see the good and never the downside.

      I look forward to hearing more about these “garage parties.”

  2. Just because things change or become more complex doesn’t mean they have improved, and isn’t that the illusion of progress, that we are getting better all the time? Are we, really? Are we any better than our forebears of a century ago, or two centuries ago?

    Antibiotics? All but useless anymore, maybe even dangerous if one assumes the antibiotic (anti-life is what the word means, after all) will protect us. Once the illusion of progress is pulled aside, it becomes apparent that bacteria are smarter than us, have pulled off far greater feats than our cities and drugs, and “progress” at a far greater speed than we do. Hence roughly 75 years after the advent of antibiotics every single bacteria in the world has an immunity (learned from other bacteria, mind you) to more than 80% of our antibiotics, and that number shrinks daily–bacteria develop new immunities to new antibiotics within days of their appearance, and within three months those new immunities have been shared all the way around the world.

    Progress is the great Darwinian human illusion. Our lives are easier and softer, but we’ve lost something of life in it as well. Remember the words of Lucinda Matlock in Masters’ Spoon River Anthology:

    What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
    Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
    Degenerate sons and daughters,
    Life is too strong for you—
    It takes life to love Life.

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