By Meta J. Mereday, writer/editor and diversity, media and community development expert
Living in this high technology and increasing digitized existence makes me wonder a great deal about the future. In a world that has become the “change your app to control your life” existence, I continue to ask myself are we really better off or not.
There are apps to give you directions, make dinner reservations, correct spelling errors and set up your wardrobe. All we need now is the app to drive the car itself versus that persistent voice telling you how lost — and actually how dependent – you are to technology versus instincts.
Some people are so attached to their phones and the multitude of applications, they can no longer write with a pen, count change in their heads or speak in full sentences — there are apps for all of that! Just the notion that the words in the English language, which is so many cases is abridged, altered and adulterated, just becomes further assaulted when you have highly educated human beings who now have to learn what letter combinations such BFF and IDK mean to communicate with the younger generation.
By improving our way of life and accessibility to information, we have diminished our way of communicating with each other and utilizing the portions of the brain that were designed for creative process and human exchange. There are apps that pick art work, apps that design our homes, apps that explain apps.
Even the phrase “apps” is an abbreviation on the word “applications.” A word that used to have other meanings, but has now become a part of the modern culture, short-cut mindset.
Unfortunately, there is no going back, but I am sure there is an “app” that will provide you with a time travel experience — or there will be. It is bad enough that you can hardly get two words out of teenagers who will suffer from what I call ATCNS – advanced texting crooked neck syndrome- before they reach 30 and will have major neck and back pains, if not a perpetual slump by 40 years old.
What are we really saying as we streamline the communication process and minimize the power of the written and spoken word? In the media industry, many are bemoaning the fact that people are not reading, thus the demise of newspapers, magazines and the many jobs therein.
In the education field, the experts are embarrassed by the low reading and writing scores of our young people who represent the booming clientele for all things digital. Reading the blurbs on the iPad or getting an abbreviated tweet has taken the place of knowledge based fact finding, reading comprehension and writing proficiency.
It is the modern day “cheat sheet” to awareness and understand. Do we not see the connection to the problem being the bridge to ignorance built by the digital era? I am guessing that we do not see it because it takes too long to grasp the concept and we do not talk about these issues in depth anymore.
We have gotten away from the interpersonal exchange of information - for example, sitting at the knees or our elders. It is not just about lack of diversity and inclusion, which is still a problem, but the even bigger problem is our own digital diversion from social infrastructure and common bonds – conversation, communication and compassion. We don’t talk to each other, we don’t share our stories and we don’t involve ourselves in preserving our own history.
So, do we really think that next generation – “bought everything for to make them better because they got what you didn’t get group – is going to understand the underlying meaning of your actions without words? Think again — but maybe there might be an app out there to help with that too.