David Hines
The electrical hominid
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By David Hines
October 20, 2014

We have been living with an emergency for millennia and have been entirely unaware of it. Yesterday Facebook experienced a brief shutdown. Los Angeles 911 received sufficient calls about it that the sheriff was compelled to issue a statement to the effect that he was not prepared to handle the situation.*

People once lived with the cycles of nature – diurnal waxing and waning of light, the seasons, the phases of the moon. Now those primal cycles have become more or less irrelevant. With electric lighting, work can proceed around the clock, which times activities to the millisecond. Seasonal weather has relevance mostly regarding whether driving conditions will be pleasant. Otherwise air conditioning and central heating remove it from consideration.

We are much more informed about the environment now, since instead of living in it we can read about it on Facebook. It's 2014 and everybody knows....

At one time people had to concentrate for long periods of time to achieve anything, but today man has a much shorter attention span. Even the formerly ubiquitous sixty-second TV ad has been replaced by smaller bits more digestible by the easily distracted. So, naturally, Homo electronicus has developed infallible opinions about processes such as environmental change and the sustainability of government money creation, which operate on the scale of decades and centuries.

Ancients performed some astounding feats, such as building pyramids and aqueducts with only rudimentary tools. Some could memorize and recite long sagas such as the Iliad. Modern man has difficulty making change if the cash register doesn't tell him how.

The sentiment that our ancestors were benighted savages until a couple generations ago is nothing new. It has been expressed practically since the advent of writing. Another ubiquitous sentiment is that the next generation is going to hell in a hand basket.

Like every other generation gone before, Homo electronicus seems to be consumed with common exalted assumptions about his generational superiority. It may be 2014, but what everyone knows ain't necessarily so.

* Lest my facetiousness mislead anyone, note that the sheriff's statement was more akin to, "Don't bother us with this crap. We have other things to do." He did it with a bit more tact than I might have been able to muster.

© David Hines

 

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David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

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