Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Growing old with the web


Ours is the first generation to have grown old with the internet. In addition to losing illusions as the hormones subside, we now have the worldwide web stripping them away too. A double dose of disillusion. No wonder we are so curmudgeonly.

Admittedly we have always known politicians to be the kind of people one would not invite into one's own home. We have always known how newspapers love drama and hate analysis because drama rakes in the lucre where analysis doesn’t. Or rather it used to rake in the lucre. We have always known that the BBC is not populated with the decently clever people we one assumed it was designed for. We certainly know that celebrities are more appalling than appealing.

However, we did not know all this with the forcible certainty the web insists on. It seems to relish hosing the scales from our ageing eyes. The world is even more ghastly than we were ever supposed to know and the internet rams home the ghastliness with sadistic pleasure.

Yet from another perspective the world isn’t ghastly at all. In the developed world life is good. The web shows us that too. On the whole we are comfortable, well fed and healthy. On one level there is little to moan about as we sip our coffee and wonder how the world actually works, but like an overly informative valet the web persists in feeding us with interesting snippets. 

Sooner or later we may have to adapt - dread word. But we may have to adapt to life with fewer illusions. It is bound to be traumatic for some poor souls.  


Demetrius said...

Often I can find information in seconds and minutes what might have taken me weeks, months or even years. In some cases never at all. In the 60's I recall visiting newspaper offices etc. as a tourist and wondered at the numbers of people involved in a daily paper. Also, I wondered sometimes what was true and what wasn't. I don't think that most people at present understand the scale of the change or the implications.

Michael said...

The internet is a fabulous tool, but then, so is an electric drill, or saw - they all make life easier don't they?

Our PC is in a central part of 'The Turrets', and is always on, so during a pre-prandial tincture, Mrs Scroblene may ask a simple question, and withing seconds, we have an answer, so it's all out there, and as Demetrius says, it saves an awful amount of time and energy.

I think we here have adapted as far as we want, we can't be bothered with Apple watches etc, but I do like the Music Studio app on my Ipad - I always wanted to do exactly as it does for me!

Anonymous said...

Some people make things happen, some people observe things happening but most people never realised anything happened at all.

Back in the day having access to a good library and the nous to find the right book was a skill worth money. Kmowing what you could get away with in the making-things-up department was also valuable and still remains valuable in this internet age.

James Higham said...

To a point it's comfortable but not for all. Compared to Biafra - definitely.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - I don't think any of us understands the scale of the change or the implications. Presumably it will become more visible as time passes, but we may have to wait until hindsight kicks in. As it always does.

Scrobs - we have adapted as far as we want too, but if I stand back it still seems quite dramatic compared to a few decades ago.

Roger - I'm hoping for a decline in what people can get away with in the making-things-up department, but if other people don't do the checking it won't happen.

James - if we screen out the disasters then comfort is increasing. Whether or not it continues is another matter. For some it will, but for others...