Gen X Jesus speaks on Technology

Anyone who thought this post would be about religion somehow — sorry.

I’m not sure who I’ll catch more flack from, though. Hypersensitive, overly serious Christian types for what is no doubt in their view, using the Lord’s name in vain. Or, the Gen X Jesus himself, Douglas Coupland, for participating in the collective persistence to associate him forever with Generation X. I’m damned either way. Dammit! But I’m not too worried, because, you know, Christians have to turn the other cheek — it’s in their rule book or something — and I’m pretty sure I can take Coupland in a fight if it comes to that. I’m a little younger, and while I’m not in that good of shape I know how to fight dirty, and have no problem doing so. Bring it on, Dougie!

Anyway about a month ago Coupland, filling in for Stephen Fry, wrote an interesting Dork Talk column about technology for the The Guardian newspaper. Check it out:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/mar/22/gadgets.ebay

Some quotes taken out of context:

Any gadget we use invariably morphs our perception of time’s passing.

These shifting perceptions of time are what give eras in human history their specific textures. I was in Austin, Texas last spring and bumped into a friend from my stint at Wired magazine in the mid-90s. The encounter went along the lines of, “John – I haven’t seen you since… eBay! I haven’t seen you since… Google! I haven’t seen you since… BlackBerrys!” The point was that the use of decades and calendar years to mark eras is over. Time is measured in tech waves, and not only do these tech waves demarcate eras, they also define them.

I remember in the 80s … if you saw someone using a cellphone on a street, you immediately thought they were an asshole … Twenty years later, we’re all assholes. … And with cellphones and handhelds, we collapse time and space and our perception of distance and intimacy.

Is this a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. … But then it’s hard to imagine the current boom in procedural crime dramas without the cellphone. Cellphones have, if nothing else, turned TV crime writers into lazy sloths.

I agree: CSI, Law & Order — they all suck!

But to add a counter point, check out this New York Times Magazine article about how cell phones can be used to help lesson world poverty. Of course, the article headlines implies that the ubiquitous gadget may end world poverty, but as an Xer I simply can’t buy into that possibility. You can’t end something like poverty. But you can do what you can do. To wit:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/magazine/13anthropology-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin

 

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