The Next Ice(olation) Age

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A look at the March of Progress...

Submitted: April 04, 2012

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Submitted: April 04, 2012



*Something I wrote back in 2005...

Whizz, bang, click, whirr...and here we are, like the Jam said ''This is the modern world, that I've learned about. This is the modern world, we don't need no one, to tell us what's right or wrong'' 2005, the modern age. Well terminators didn't descend upon the earth in August 97', 1984 came and went without a hitch, like the government imprisoning society for instance (although that one is in the pipeline), but it doesn't look like we'll be at any sort of 'Blade Runner' level of existence anytime soon, flying cars and the suchlike, 'Space Oddysey 2001' wasn't far wrong exploration has been well on it's way since the 70's.

So what have we learned? What is different now to when you were born? More importantly, what's to come? We've had our Stone Age, Copper Age, Bronze Age and an Iron Age was thrown in there somewhere too, even a brief stint in the Stoned Age (see Summer of Love 1967). So where are we now? The Silicon Age? Is that over yet? Certainly a lot has happened, even in just the past 30 years a helluva' lot has went down! Microwaves, mobiles, t'internet, VCR, CD, DVD, LCD, LSD, LED, MP3, satellites, nukes, CAT scans, digital cameras, personal stereos, pocket calculators, camcorders and self-contained artificial hearts to name but a few, the list is endless!

These are all technological advancements, but what of the natural course of things, such as evolution? How have humans developed in the last 1,000 years? How many humans does it take to screw a lightbulb? Well we don't seem to have changed much, in fact, I would say that evolution as far as humans are concerned is as dead as the diplodocus! I don't think we've advanced all that much within our bodies since we climbed down out of the trees. Our evolution lies no longer within the vehicles of our mind, but with the vehicles of our roads - technology. Fast cars have become our extra legs, heavy machinery our extra arms, through telescopes we have superior vision to any inferior eagle! And through jet planes we've mastered the holy grail - the power of flight - and beyond, to outer space! Wasn't it Neil Armstrong that once said ''Through infinity and beyond!'' Haha.

So what about the animals? They don't have telescopes so why don't they evolve further? If we all came from apes, why aren't the apes you see today picking up tools, or discovering fire, or microwaving a burrito? Well of course evolution is too slow a thing to measure with the naked eye of History. And maybe, just maybe - given time, the apes will invent the wheel (again). Perhaps even another 30 million years down the Highway of Space and Time we'll be sharing our bars and bus seats with some distant relative of the lion - some half-humanoid, half-feline drunken figure standing next to you at the whiskey-drenched counter ordering up antelope steak, extremely rare, and a pint of elk-blood with a Wild Turkey chaser!

Some may say that the only progress we could possibly make from our current state of super-being would be to develop superhuman characteristics - like Spiderman, The Fantastic 4, or Beetlejuice, well, maybe not Beetlejuice! Then you might reply that this is absolutely ludicrous by any stretch of the imagination...or is it?

Is there not evidence all around us of such superhuman qualities? I don't think there is a single super hero character whose special skills can't be attributed to a member of the animal world, right here on the ravaged face of this green planet, what super hero powers are there? X-ray vision? Bats and dolphins already pass off a form of this with the way they use radar to sense what is round the corner, or on the other side of a wall a few miles ahead. Harnessing the power of electricity to shock you? Like Blanka or Darth Vader or even, like the electric eel (Isn't that a little backwards! A water-based animal going more electric than Bob Dylan in 1965!) Then there's shapeshifting, and comouflage skills, which you could compare to a chameleon. The ability to fly is an easy one; the bumble bee shouldn't, areodynamically speaking, be able to take flight, but the bee, not knowing this, continues to fly anyway. Super speed? Like a cheetah? Extraordinary strenght? An ant lifts ten times its own body weight, an ant carrying a leaf as they do, is the equivalent of us lifting our entire house onto our backs and trotting off on a journey of many miles! The ability to transcend great distances in a single leap is covered (literally) by the flea, clearing the equivalent of a skyscraper everytime it jumps. In fact, not one single superhuman trait hasn't already been identified by the animal kingdom. Indeed, these creatures were probably the inspiration for the characters in the first place. Biomimicry, inventions inspired by biology, just like the design of the first plane was modelled on a dragonfly, the submarine modelled on the whale, emulating echolocation in bats has led to an ultracane for the visually impaired. Other examples include; solar cells made like leaves, bionic cars inspired by the boxfish, and a wetsuit fabric that mimics shark skin.

So maybe there is nowhere for humans to go on the chain of evolution now, even telepathy is theoried to exist among fish and birds! One thing's for sure, if the only way up from now on, is through electronic gadgets, we're all going to become a hell of a lot more isolated and withdrawn.

When I'm sitting on the train to work, you can almost gaurantee, that anybody who gets on, whether it be OAPs, neds, workers, schoolkids, businessmen, absolutely anybody, they'll get on, sit down, take a disinterested glance around, whip out their phone and start jabbing away on the buttons like a person possessed undergoing exorcism. What are you doing exactly? Texting? Gaming? Surfing? All of the above simutaneously no doubt!

The point being, that we are gradually losing the ability to converse at an everyday level. Imagine the difference between the carriage on a train in the 40's, or even the early 80's - no mobiles to get consumed in, forcing, godforbid, conversation between fellow passengers, interaction with strangers, completely unheard of in these days of personal everything; personal phones, personal MP3's, personal playstations, and not to mention the ultimate of personal computers the laptop! Pretty soon we're only going to know how to communicate in terms of text message, MSN, Email or even facebook! I can see it now - the year is 2040, two people sit opposite each other on some sort of futuristic, high-speed, bulletin train that does Glasgow to London in ten minutes, a laptop fitted to each table, the two people's jaws have ceased to work, rusted through decades of neglect and disuse, the two people have laptops though, balanced precariously on their knees, the USB is wired straight into their frontal lobe so only the whites of their eyes show as static while the mind processes the vast swarms of information, cyberspace is crammed into their cyberminds, intense, deep conversation exists between them, but not on the outside...on the outside there is only silence, complete and total quiescence (train engines in this time don't nake a noise, just a smooth whisper through the air). And yet on a train in the 60's, there are pockets of discussion everywhere - unknowns talking to unknowns, friendships are being forged up and down the carriages - You try to talk to somebody on a train now, and they'll think you're crazy, or that you're going to hurt them, or both! if you're on a train look to your left and right - There'll be someone with headphones stuffed in their ears, head nodding softly, the annoyingly catchy riff of some pop jingle echoing faintly from the deep depths of their 180g iPod, somebody with a laptop perched on their thighs, their face bathed in a bluish glow as the World Wide Web hums away in front of them, access to anywhere, and anybody in Whole Wide World and yet strangely, they are completely submerged in isolation, and on top of all these wireless heads there will be a whole symphony of folk stabbing at the keys on their phone, playing golf, texting, surfing, rotting...alone.

It's got to a point that if I get on a train and I need to make an important call, or I know for a fact there is a text message from somebody, just sitting there waiting to be read, I'll refrain from getting my phone out at the risk of being associated with these text maniacs who seem to have WAP connected to their brains, wirelessly, of course - Or maybe I was just born somewhere on wrong side of The Digital Revolution, The Age of Information, The Digi-Decades, The Mobile Millenia, or indeed the cusp of an I.T Age...Isolation 'Ise Age' as it were. 


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