It is difficult to fully appreciate the huge difference mobile phones have made to our lives, especially to those who have grown up with them. Of course, those who are anything over thirty may remember that once upon a time, just about no one had mobile phones, and if you did, they were about the size and weight of a house-brick.
I was struck by a strange sense of time-vertigo recently, as I was reading a book that was written in the early part of the twentieth century. Since I spent the first twenty-two years of my life in that century, it still has the ring of modernity to it – the twentieth century was the latest, and greatest of all centuries. Reading this author, who was writing just shy of one hundred years ago, speaking of the twentieth century as his current century, when the second world war had not even happened, gave me this strange sense of vertigo.
Since we are now a full sixteen years into the new 21st Century, it struck me that if this century was anything like the last, by the time it draws to its close the world will be simply unrecognisable, as the world at the close of the 20th century would likely have been to the author who was writing in the 1920s. This was a slightly disconcerting feeling. Suddenly the epic changes the world has been undergoing, and their extreme rapidity was brought home to me.
Perhaps this is just an artefact of the fact that I am now nearly forty, and so my appreciation of time has naturally begun to alter, since I have experienced more of it, but nonetheless, I think it may be something that is peculiar to my generation. The mobile phone could be the key item that really brings this all home, so to speak. Since they are now all actually computers, so powerful that once upon a not very long ago they would have required an entire building to house, and they fit in the palm of your hand, the mobile phone has come to encapsulate the computer revolution as well.
Between these two things which are now one, the computer and the phone, the world has changed and the rate of change has also sped up dramatically. There’s a feeling of being on a rollercoaster. It was like looking back at the twentieth century was a kind of “Phew, I’m glad that’s all done with”, only to look ahead and see that the big drop and the speedy ride that looked like the biggest part of the ride was in fact only a very small warm up for what happens next.
The acceleration of the creation of knowledge, and the dissemination of that knowledge, at times seem to be working at odds with each other. Yes we can now disseminate knowledge at lightning speed, but since there is now so much of it being created, the dissemination of what you might call “True Knowledge” is arguably not getting any faster. In fact, if pop culture is anything to go by, much of what was worthwhile from previous ages is being lost in a torrent of newness. It is said that the true mystery protects itself from the eyes of the profane, or hides in plain sight, and this seems to be as true as it ever was, despite our advanced tech. All is as it should be then, I suppose. 🙂