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A big damn hurry

One man's progress is another man's lament for a simpler time, according to 'oldie' George Hook, who worries for the furture of his grandchildren


High-speed internet and technological gadgets dominate everyday living

High-speed internet and technological gadgets dominate everyday living

High-speed internet and technological gadgets dominate everyday living

There is a scene in The Shawshank Redemption where long-time inmate Brooks Hatlen is released on to the streets after over 50 years. As the frail old man attempts to absorb his unfamiliar surroundings amid confusion and fear, he says; "The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry".

I often wonder what Brooks would make of the world today, were he to step outside the confines of an institution and into the ultra-modern, hi-tech bubble that is life in 2017. We are smack-bang in the middle of a digital age, hurtling at warp speed towards a dramatic shift in societal operations. High-speed internet and technological gadgets dominate everyday living, to the extent that mobiles and laptop computers are now extensions of our bodies and essential tools of existence.

Paper is increasingly redundant, and it won't be long before books, magazines and, yes, even newspapers, are but relics of a bygone era, extinct from modern living and curious antiques of our ancestors' time. Today's generation want everything on a screen, and they want it instantaneously.

Conversation is taking a back seat to online interaction. Time was, the thrill of a romantic chase involved subtle hints, gentle conversation and then the courage to ask for a dance or a dinner date. These days, the courting ritual has been reduced to a swipe right or clicking a 'like' button.

I wonder what happens when two people match up and arrange to meet on Tinder. How long before the phones come out? Are people actually capable of sitting down and conversing face-to-face for a period of time anymore?

All over Dublin, people walk the streets, faces down, headphones on, impervious to their surroundings or the goings-on around them. In cafes and restaurants, plug sockets for phone chargers are a must at every table, as the bright glare of screens takes preference over human companionship.

And amid the clamour to hail this digital revolution as essential progress, we are slowly eroding our fundamental human instincts in favour of artificial advancement. I look at my grandchildren and I wonder how this decreasing social interaction will affect their personalities as they grow. Will there come a time when machines dominate the social spectrum?

We are already a very different society to the one in which I grew up. Some would argue that advances in technology are the inevitable consequence of progress. But who defines what progress is? And at what cost?

The Mark Zuckerbergs and Steve Jobs of this world never displayed much aptitude for human interaction anyway, so why are they being allowed to define what life in the 21st Century looks like?

Why are we investing our future in the hands of people whose primary concern is the advancement of technology and the repeal of person-to-person contact?

The wonderful literary skills and oratory talents of Shakespeare and Wilde are being taught in schools, yet we are increasingly moving away from the fundamentals that allowed these two geniuses to flourish.

Cantankerous ramblings

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The written word has become so dumbed-down among teenagers and young adults that it is quite possible the Collins Dictionary will need a complete rewrite in the near future to cater for the new language of text-speak and emojis.

Some of you reading might consider this the cantankerous ramblings of an old fusspot, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have embraced technology wholeheartedly in my elder years.

What others of my generation make of it all, I'm not so sure. And for every person enthusiastically tackling the latest digital advancement that will 'change all our lives for the better', there are many others that cannot cope with this new computer-dominated society.

I expect they feel much like old Brooks did as he set out from Shawshank for the first time. The world we now live in went and got itself in a big damn hurry, and the truth is that none of us really know where the road will lead. Whether or not we will all be better for the journey is not for me to say. After all, one man's progress is another's lament for a simpler time.

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