There are times when I truly dislike the world in which we live. I sometimes feel that the more we evolve the less civilized we become. There is no doubt that advances in science and technology have made the world a better place. There is no doubt that those advances have made our lives easier and have reduced suffering. But what about our humanity?
Among the many places I have lived over the past few years, my favorite was a 150-year-old Victorian house. Living in a historical house was an eye-opening experience. It was a glimpse into the lifestyles of people now long gone.
In its original state, the house did not have electricity, heat, or indoor plumbing. All of that had been awkwardly added by the generations of residents who lived and died there over the years. In its original form, it required the residents of the house to be truly engaged in keeping fires lit, oil lamps filled, and chamber pots emptied. Houses then required much more manual labor and maintenance than we are used to today. As a result, people had far less leisure time and did not have the same distractions that eat up our every waking moment today. Sometimes I have to make a real effort to turn off the TV after listening to the morning news. When I manage to succeed at not allowing that distraction, I am always so pleased at the results. It turns out to be a day when I do some writing, work on my blog, or read a book.
Technology is amazing and essential. Without it, I would not be publishing this blog post. However, it has in many ways dehumanized us. People walk around with their heads down focused on their cell phones. They eviscerate each other on social media hidden behind anonymous handles. They use their devices as an excuse to avoid looking each other in the eye and fully engaging in personal conversations. In that regard, technology has not advanced humanity.
The house I lived in had a “parlor”. The parlor was the room in the house where you entertained guests and gathered with your family. There was a time when people enjoyed interpersonal relationships. We are social creatures after all. Have we gotten too lazy to open our mouths to speak? Is it easier to sit home in front of our laptops rather than venture out to meet a friend? Are we afraid that we cannot hold up our end of a conversation?
There is no going back. The wheels are in motion and technology grows by leaps and bounds each year. Humanity, on the other hand, continues to deteriorate. The charm is gone. The civility is gone. It is becoming harder and harder to find places where people remember the days when neighbors would stop to say hello and friends would stop in for a cup of coffee. It may be hard to believe, but it was fun. From the very beginning of our evolution, we were meant to interact with each other. It is no wonder people are at each other’s throats. We have forgotten how to be a functioning society.
To be honest, the whole thing makes me sad. That is probably because I remember the world before cell phones, tablets, and laptops. If the younger generation had the same memories with which to compare their world, they might be sad as well.