The world is changing at a pace only our imaginations can keep up with.
As our connectivity and communications ‘advance’, how do we keep our humanity intact?
Today I have been in a reflective mood: Life is moving very quickly.
My girlfriend sent me an old picture of my son yesterday. It was actually the first picture ever taken of him, a scan photo, and it took me back to when we were expecting him. Our daughter was three and we thought we had a good idea of what lay ahead.
Looking back, we were wrong. Life is full of unpredictable events. Plans get changed and while uncertainty and loss of control are often unwelcome, they have a way of keeping us adaptable and focused.
All change isn’t bad. When something new happens, it creates opportunities.
We shouldn’t want to avoid change, but we can’t anyway!
As Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said “Change is the only constant”
I would humbly suggest that another constant is our tendency to struggle with change.
Our actions today impact the world we leave behind but we often underestimate the size of that influence and the pace at which it happens. That often makes our reaction to change inadequate or too slow.
Change has a way of sneaking up on us.
For example, the television didn’t exist 100 years ago and started off as an inspiring but grainy view of the world. Within a few decades you could have a colour TV keeping you entertained and up to date in any household. Today we have on demand access to a universe of content on massive screens in incredible life-like quality.
We often feel bombarded with visual media and the television has changed the way many people prioritise their free time.
We now consume news, movies and entertainment on a huge scale. Did we see this coming in 1927?
The technology behind radio has gone through an even bigger transformation. A century after its invention it has massively surpassed it’s original potential to broadcast and communicate. That early work into long distance communication evolved into the internet.
The freedom of the internet allows us to stay connected whilst seducing us into never really switching off. Combined with the evolution of visual media, it’s arguably the most inviting prison we have.
The information at our fingertips and the connectivity we now have is unprecedented. Were we ready for this? Did civilisation move at the same pace?
Within a lifetime our communication and the range of information we have access to, and are exposed to, has changed beyond recognition. If you need to know something it is rarely more than a few clicks away. If you can’t be bothered moving, raise your voice to the relevant virtual assistant.
As a result, very little of what we do exists completely offline and most of the world that influences how we think and feel is delivered conveniently to us, often outside of our control.
(And these are only two of many parts of our society that are changing rapidly and will impact the world our children live in.)
Our immediate future in these areas points to more immersive technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive holograms. These giant leaps forward into our relationship with a connected world are exciting but it is clear we are not fully prepared for them.
Have our experiences set us up to live so much more of our lives online? Do we have enough transferable life skills to survive whatever comes next? Are we mentally prepared to cope as influential media continues to infiltrate our daily lives?
Can we look ahead and better prepare our children?
To take this point further, change in society occurs at a faster and faster rate. Only science fiction would be brave enough to predict the world that will exist in 20 years. Let alone a lifetime from now. Even without the specifics, though, we can see the general direction we are heading.
The pace of change and the uncertainty of the future mean that we have to ensure our children have Resilience and Flexibility. How else can they be adaptable enough for the future?
And as the messages we receive become more centralised and we connect more and more with technology and less and less with each other, our sense of individuality is certainly in jeopardy. It is crucial that we develop their Self Esteem, Communication and Empathy.
I recognise my son in that ultrasound image from all those years ago but when it was first taken, I couldn’t have predicted that this is the young man he would have become.
We do not know what world we will leave behind but we need to feel confident we have prepped the next generation as well as we can, and that isn’t by raising them for the world we grew up in.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!