Consider, for one moment, the text you are currently reading. Really.
Sit back for a second and try not to read the words as much as look at them. Are you looking at them upon a flat-screen monitor, or perhaps from the technological marvel of a smartphone? Maybe from a laptop, perched at the kitchen counter, sitting in your favorite chair, or propped up in bed?
Now, take a moment to consider your surroundings. I’d bet there are, at minimum, two other gadgets within view—maybe a television, a Kindle or Nook, an iPod, a digital camera, another cell phone.
While these things seem substantially obvious, even absurdly so, they all point to a common denominator which we don’t quickly identify with: our innate need to be connected. Even the coffee machine on the counter speaks not just to our need to wake up, but as a centerpiece for many a social life.
That’s on an individual level, within our own personal sphere of influence or proximity. Expand your imagination perhaps one more degree to the local or community level where you may have neighborhood or town newsletters to stay abreast of what those around you are doing. One more degree to the national stage and we have radio, television, cable, all these outlets that bombard us with information day in and day out.
Now, step back again and think about what technology has completely wrapped itself around all of these?
Did you think of the internet?
From GPS to our cell phones, to streaming radion stations and network feeds, and instant news captured by video phones. We literally walk about, every day, immersed in digitalia.
Back in January 2011, as I listened to news about the uprising in Tunisia, I was struck by how pathetic the attempts made by the government were to cut off access to media and the internet; too often government—our own republic included—fails to account for sheer human will. Such governments, many tyrannical dictatorships, rely on keeping their populace uneducated—essentially a political form of sanctioned stupidity. If the people don’t know any better then they are certainly more apt to believe whatever a regime sees fit to feed it as truth. Large swathes of the Middle East make this profusely clear.
But many of their youth travel abroad to get an education they can’t possibly dream of getting at home. They attend universities in Europe and here in America. They quickly become enamored with our freedoms and prosperity. They are given a chance to see the world as it truly is without the shroud of a theocracy dictating what they should think and feel. Youth, well versed in the binary arts, become a force of mind and power.
Utilizing Facebook and a smartphone they organize rallies and protests. They grasp the veil of ignorance and try to extirpate its white-knuckled grip upon their countrymen. They find a way, even when internet access is locked down, to get word out.
And look at the effect it has had . . .
Tunisia has fallen and an interim government set up in hopes of establishing a more free and transparent kind of system. Egypt has ousted its long-time dictators. As I write this the people of Libya are desperately trying to break the grasp of one of history’s most astute buffoons in Muammar Gaddafi. Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria are currently dealing with roiling discontent of their own. These things are not just news items. These happenings are nothing short of a digital crusade in a land that long has suppressed the Natural Rights of humanity while hoisting the banner of strict adherence to ascetic principles of God; natural rights are considered to be divinely inherent, gifts which each human are born with, therefore the two cannot be treated as mutually exclusive.
Youth are driving this almost cataclysmic change, and doing so by the powers vested in them via technology and education.
I wondered how American youth perceive this power, or if they give the slightest thought to it whatsoever. I put an ad on Craigslist and eBay asking if any were interested in sharing their thoughts in a guest post. I received a number of inquiries, but to date I have received only three guest posts. You will be reading these three over the next week. I wanted to widen the scope of the matter to include not just global events but also the interactive aspect of technology and how it affects relationships, both familial and external.
If you know of someone who would like to participate then let me know! The responses I have received are all from Arizona; would be interesting to get a larger demo-geographic slice of opinion.
Please be sure to come back and see what the next generation has to say about the technology that powers their everyday lives—Abbey Wells, Alicia Triassi-DeMayo, and my son Chayce may just surprise you with how connected they are to both the virtual and real worlds.