Last night we had some friends over for dinner and amid a lot of laughter and discussion, my buddy invited one of our guests to watch a Back To The Future marathon on October 21st. “Why that particular date?” I asked. Before he opened his mouth I knew the answer. In the second movie it's the date the DeLorean lands in the future and Marty has to save his son from making a bad decision. The conversation then led to how accurately it portrayed the future back when the movie was released in 1989. Most of us at the table could remember seeing the movie and lamented that we still don't have hoverboards, but luckily, have better taste in clothes. It did get me thinking though, what will life and community be like in another 25 years? I am an extremely relational person. I love being in a group of people, listening and learning, joking and laughing. I am highly energised by those around me. Most people are relational, too. We are designed that way. The possessions we own have cluttered our lives and taken away a lot of the freedom we once had. I lived in Australia for a year back in 1999. I was 22 years old and the dawn of email was just on the horizon (I think it may have dawned already but I didn't care). I made a decision during that year away to not use this new invention that allowed us to send information 12,000 miles home in an instant. Nope, old tech-curmudgeon here decided to call on a telephone—one that had a turning dial!—and hand-wrote a bunch of letters every six weeks. My reasoning was that the personal touch meant more. I didn't get a cell phone until I was 26 years old and living in London. I still wrote the letters home and journaled like a fiend. My life felt very rich in experience and nobody was looking at photos of the burger I was about to eat. Current statistics state:
Social networking already accounts for 28 percent of all media time spent online.
That's a crazy amount. How much of that time is spent trying to compete with the Kardashians and everyone else? Yes, there are positive trade-offs like staying both in touch and in tune with friends and family all over the world. But reflexively hitting twitter or Facebook as soon as you wake up in the morning—as I've done up until recently—is not healthy. And, just as owning a lot of possessions clutter our lives, the same can be said for the platforms we use. They have to be maintained and updated due to enormous pressure to stay relevant. Our consumer habits, dialogue (how many posts have you seen with the words “this guy!”or “that thing tho”?), mannerisms, diets, and opinions are all shaped by social media.
I got into the superb podcast, Serial, towards the end of last year. After looking into it online, I found that many people were having Serial listening parties. Events where friends gathered to listen to this quirky radio show and discuss it afterwards. Reading about this transported me back to being a kid and hearing the crackle of the radio in my grandmother's house. I believe the popularity of this podcast was its ability to do just that: transport the listener back to a simpler time, invoking and reclaiming a memory that has stayed dormant too long. It is just one example of encouragement I see for the future, where communication and human interaction are placed at a premium over technology. I witnessed it first hand last night as guitars were played and songs were sang around the dinner table, the only evidence it ever happened being the memories in my mind.