Old World Charm is gone forever !
Used to be that Life didn’t change much from one generation to the next - children would grow up and internalize more or less the same values and assumptions that held true in the time of their parents. Their aspirations would not be too far ahead of what the parents achieved. A long awaited 2 wheeler or a Refrigerator or a Television would be bought with a year of savings and then cherished like a family member for the next 20 years. The career choice was limited to being a Doctor, engineer, Defense or family business. The course of life for most people was charted quite early in life and the future did not hold too many surprises.
And then in hardly any span of time, all that constancy went for a toss. In India this happened with the first wave of Liberalization that started in 1991. Much restricted though it was in scope, it still released a genie out of the bottle that the politicians today are finding impossible to put back in.
But this write up is not about that. This one is about the dawn of the world wide information revolution that more or less coincided with the above mentioned political event in India. This revolution, in less than two decades jumped the pace of life to a level that was simply not foreseen by the majority of the world’s population. Teenagers of the 1980’s and 90s - as adults today - are holding gadgets in their hands that the best of science fiction movies of their youth could not imagine.
It was really not very long back ….
- when a high end big screen TV would occupy half a room
- when a big boxy audio cassette would hold just 15 songs
- when big clunky mobile phones in James Bond movies of the 80’s were the stuff of science fiction
- when postal ‘Telegram’ was considered ‘instant messaging’ and used to take a whole day to get through
- when you couldn’t talk to people across the world face to face on a flat screen practically free
- when Facebook updates didn’t instantly broadcast your evening dinner across the world
- when Snail mail used to take a fortnight to reach friends and family – if at all !
- when Archie shops used to do good business selling paper greeting cards for all occasions
- when Childhood friends and teenage crushes once lost, were lost forever
- when God didn’t mean Google
- when Google was actually Googol and meant a very large number
- when a search engine didn’t know how to read your mind
- when a search engine actually meant a diesel that Railways would send to search for lost passenger trains !
How life has changed in so short a time !
This is not at all an anti-technology, Luddite write up. This is just nostalgia of someone who was not born in this ‘instant on’ era - a feeling that many of the 70’s and 80’s born get every once in a while when the current pace of life allows them the luxury to reflect. It was a revolution that crept up on us at a nascent stage of life and then just exploded in our face. Human beings have evolved to assume a certain constancy in the nature of things around them - that assumption has ceased to hold. The pace of change has gone ballistic. Life has gone through a paradigm shift. And the Law of Accelerating Returns will ensure that what we have seen so far is nothing compared to what is to come soon. The Change that is yet to come will boggle the mind and will require a constant effort to adapt to.
These few decades are a watershed moment in the history of Mankind. What makes this time so unique is that this is the definite and inevitable start of the coming Oneness of the entire humanity. From here on, it is just a matter of time before the world comes together as one nation, with a common language, one currency, where the intermixing of people blurs all distinction between races, where free markets bring prosperity to all, where religions cease to be hold much importance, where Poverty, Hunger and Disease will practically vanish, where human lifespans will be considerably extended….if we or our children miss immortality, it will be by a whisker.
All this is imminent in the sense that a lot of this will happen before the 21st century is up. In the long march of Humanity, a hundred years is but a blink of the eye. The techno wizardry that is in the pipeline will yet show us magic in our lives. But not all the magic in the world will bring back the old world charm – that is gone and gone forever.