On this Fourth of July holiday, one is civically encouraged to dedicate a few moments to consider the celebrated founding of the Nation. Perhaps, while one is thus (perennially) distracted, from his daily, mundane routine, he may additionally, take a rare opportunity to responsibly, consider certain other subjects of major significance; vital subjects, even those of existential importance which are eternally and irresponsibly, dismissed from consideration.
It is alarming and disheartening to learn from the world’s accredited experts, that it is no longer the challenge to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change (despite the atavistic and profit hungry deniers), the effects have already been felt; the challenge now, is to mitigate them, if possible, and live with and adjust to those of major, or, horrific significance. We have, frighteningly, crossed the red line, the Rubicon, by our negligent disinterest.
Global change is all too evident in the unusually monstrous and frequent forest fires, numerous major hurricanes and flooding rainstorms, rapidly melting artic glaciers, rise in water table, highly unpredictable, seasonal, climate and temperature changes, alterations and severity in winds and rainfall, even unexpected tsunamis.
In sadly, predictable fashion we have, similarly, crossed the red line, or Rubicon, societally and anthropologically, as we had fearfully predicted, on the all- important, and fundamental human level, that of societal interaction.
In several urgent posts, we have expressed our fears and misgivings about the substitution of cell phone interaction for more intimate, personal conversation, by person and telephone. We have shuddered at the thought that the transmission from one person’s screen to another, of data-like messaging as an exclusive substitute for normal conversation, did great damage to our societal interaction, and ultimately the institution of society. We noted that, the absence of spontaneous response, and of the comfort of voice recognition and conversational nuance, the inability to emphasize feelings and thoughts (emogees are an inadequate and substitute and a direct admission as to the inadequacy of electronic communication), the individual exercise of distinctive persona, the sense of impersonality at the time of transmission, are all among the many interactive losses caused by cell phone conversation.
These robot-like, in absentia, data like conversations, greatly suffer from the loss of natural, spontaneous, conversation, and tend to distance the parties from each other by its impersonality; don’t we all experience enough transmission and receipt of electronic data, without substituting it from our human interaction? What is urgently needed at this time of strife, racial, ethnic, sexual and xenophobic is the peace- making feeling of closeness and personal identification with others, and not their electronic access.
It is downright distressing for mature members of society, to observe younger members of society who have already lost the memory, awareness, even the concept of natural interaction, so important for a working and successful society. Many, if not most, are without resources in the absence of their “smart phones.” Reference to the hand-held electronic box is all that is necessary for the acquisition of information and contact with the outside world. Human reason and expressed, nuanced personality is retro; robotic data transmission is in.
It appears that we have crossed the red line, the Rubicon, in this vital area as well. We read a work wherein a College Professor gave an assignment to his class to go to a favorite place, with no technology, for 45 minutes, and when they return, write a short essay on the experience. The author indicated that most of their reflections filled him with sadness. Often, they shared how difficult it was for them to be separated from their phones. The author stated, that some actually experienced withdrawal symptoms including increased anxiety and that, typically, it takes students several minutes before they can experience the natural surroundings. Many of the students, he wrote, “comment on how the experience brought back memories of their childhood, when they often played outdoors with friends, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of their environment”. [ Outdoors for All”, by Richard Louv].
The Rubicon is very slow, due to unprecedentedly heavy traffic.