What’s the time, Mr Wolf?
Most of you will have realised there are pretty much just two threads to this blog of mine: the first is that Tories are bad and, the second, that technology will turn your mind to mush. This particular post initially started out as the former and I was going to remind you that Boris Johnson is a cad, a liar, a charlatan and a thief. I’ve been saying it for years and I’m going to continue to do so until everyone knows it. And the bigger picture doesn’t paint the whole party in a good light either with Tony Blair, who admittedly has his own faults and foibles to deal with, kinda hitting the nail of the head, in his era-defining 1999 speech, by describing them as “the party of fox hunting, Pinochet and heredity peers.” Cash-for-questions may have been replaced with cash-for-curtains but once the nasty party, always the nasty party.
Anyway, I then thought the world doesn’t really need another thousand words from me on Tory sleaze and cronyism so I decided to, as modern parlance would have it, pivot to the latter and highlight the fact that just because I’m unquestionably a grumpy curmudgeonly Boomer, doesn’t mean my tech fears are necessarily wrong. Yes, of course, oldsters have always complained about new things corrupting civilisation: Socrates wished hand-writing hadn’t been invented because people wouldn’t be able to remember things; the printing press was blamed for a 16th century information overload; between the wars, grouchy social critics complained that radio commentary was rotting teenage brains. As was always thus.
Now, even if you’re not completely on-board with my apparent Luddism, I’m hoping you may be able to at least admit the deleterious impact the current crop of digital tech is having on our collective powers of concentration? Are you reading this with a brain that’s conditioned to continuously check your smart phone and have you already wandered from the two-paragraph task in hand? If not, congratulations as you may be one a declining minority that can remember what it was like before it wasn’t. Speaking personally, I occasionally catch glimpses of that old world but mainly it’s long gone.
And that’s why I’m highly sceptical to the claim that we should stop worrying on the basis that Generation Y’ers and Z’ers are perfectly at ease in this attentional world. It’s all they’ve ever known FFS so they’re bound to believe they’re comfortable with it. However, the tail’s wagging the dog and a twelve year Fortnite player ain’t gonna tell you much at the best of times! By the same token, a twenty-four year old singleton knows not of a life without Tinder. Or Grinder. No doubt, in a few short years these concerns will go the same way as the worries of the wireless and television, hilariously antiquated and universally mocked on three-second TikToks transmitted directly to our neural implants. Probably.
In the meantime, it doesn’t mean they were unwarranted or unnecessary. Even if I, my fellow Boomers and Gen X’ers can be accused of crying wolf, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one patiently waiting in the wings ready to pounce. We are the ones who are the last ones standing who can recall how things felt before. Oh what long fangs you have, Mr Johnson…