It’s finally happened. Technology officially scares me. Apple announced the IPhone X (must be important, it has Super Bowl numbering) which will have facial recognition to identity the phone’s owner. Why anyone needs facial recognition is beyond me, but I also asked the same question in 2007 about the introduction of the first IPhone. Little did I realize that the introduction of the IPhone would change the way humans interact with each other. Outside of the automobile, I’m not sure there is a product that has changed interaction between people more than the IPhone and the various apps we all use. Is it possible a Tweet could set off WWIII? Jesus, that was supposed to happen via a Bond villain, not a poorly spelled 128 character message composed by a former real estate developer!
The automobile made it easier to connect with people in the physical world, the IPhone makes it easier to live life in the “cone of silence” of the cyber world. Don’t believe me? Go to any coffee shop and stand in line. Look around and see how many people are looking at their phone. Now look and see how many people are having conversations. Usually it’s 100% on their phone. Youdon’t even have to interact with the barista. Just open your app, order your drink, hit pay, pick it up and leave the shop. No human interaction necessary.
Facial recognition doesn’t change any of that, but it was a trigger for me to think about how much the world has changed since I was a young boy. Coffee shops were for beatniks to recite poetry and sing folk songs. You got your coffee for $.25 cents at the doughnut shop in the morning with a gooey glazed doughnut. If you didn’t say hello to people in the doughnut shop, they thought you were rude. If you say hello to someone at the coffee shop today, they may have you arrested for a hate crime.
$4.00 coffee drinks, social media, 24/7 news cycles. Everything and anything available now and delivered to your doorstep the next day. The more connected we become to our phones and the infinite world of the internet, the more we are detached from friends, family and the physical world around us. Will Alexa one day tell us what it is ordering, rather than wait for us to ask?
I’m not sure where all of this takes us. Do we get more “stuff’ done? Do those things have value? Do we continue to become more isolated in our daily existence as human beings. Do self-driving cars, virtual reality and Amazon everything make our lives better? I don’t have the answers (nor does anyone else), but I do like the fact I get daily pictures of my grandson via a Google private sharing file.
I wonder if my grandson will laugh at me being scared of technology. Am I a 21’st century Luddite, or just a 58 year old dude with a lot of miles on him? Or maybe I just don’t want my face along with everything else about me in a government data base somewhere. Probably too late.
This blog entry is dedicated to my mom and dad, Milford and Helen Carroll. They are reunited in the next life, and they never owned a cell phone. They are happy.