I spend a good chunk of my day in front of screens. My mac laptop at home, Windows powered computer at work, kindle when relaxing, instant messages on phones and gadgets,music on ipods, skype to stay in touch, big screen movies, entertainment systems on the planes, dvd in the car, GPS, TV, you name it, it has a screen. And I, like almost everyone around me in the West and increasingly in the rest of the world, am hooked on shiny back-lit screens.
And now I am aching for an iPad.
What has happened to us in the past few decades? It was bad enough when it was mostly the TV that was the culprit that invaded households during the last Century, the stupid box, where families would slowly forego their communication skills while numbly glaring at whatever was dished to them while allowing themselves to be passively bombarded with canned entertainment.
Then cable networks started bringing people around the world round-the-clock sensational news coverage that kept people glued to their screens during major happenings, catastrophes, upheavals, elections-especially problematic ones in the US, and the scandals of politicians such as the Lewinsky affair. This was soon followed by Tivo, giving spectators a sense of control making them more hooked to their precious TV time and again foregoing communicating with each other face to face, nose to nose, eye to eye. The same is true of facebook, twitter, youtube, myspace, flickr and every other platform that makes us glare at a screen and attempt to digitally communicate with others. I am doing exactly that right now as I write this blog post.
We spend an alarmingly significant amount of time behind our screens, as well as in front of them, as they have become our front, our shields from meaningful interactions that are human in nature. I am guilty of being one of those people who got undeniably fascinated by new technology, gadgets, applications. I love the science behind the incredible advances in diffusing our information and ideas. What we share with the world on twitter for example is nothing but our own attempt to be counted, heard in real time.
Take a closer look at who rules Twitter, with the exception of the few celebrities a la Kutcher. Who did you say? Yeah, don’t be scared to admit it. Geeks. Techies. Now geeks rule. Whereas previously branded as outcasts and tortured by their peers, now nerds and geeky men and women are ruling the web. We need them for our daily dealings with our screens, our tech support, we listen to their expert advice on youtube, we follow them on twitter, they are ruling the waves.
Yes. The revenge of the Nerds. Damn straight. And about time.
I believe that this screen trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future, during our lifetime and that of our kids. At least in the Western world of the here and now, this is true.
Go to the middle of Africa or places like rural Yemen and you see that at least half the population has never been online. The chasm is large between the first and third of the worlds that make up our home planet. Yet the trend is on the up and up, with the world becoming more not less digital, where techies are here to stay, to be counted and to benefit from our addiction to our screens. They have become our revered wise and suddenly (dare I say it?) cool people that we all look up to for inspiration, information and support. We crave their advice and innovation, seeing how digital communication is taking over our lives. Think Steve Jobs. In another era, he would’ve been picked on, now he’s the essence of cool.
Long live geeks and screens.
I still want my iPad.