Visiting an art museum with Anne
Anne told the newspaper she felt email had taken the humanity out of human interaction, and said people were “becoming robots” sat in front of screens.
She described her horror at the rows of ready-made meals on sale in supermarkets, and her fears about the environmental impact of overcrowding and pollution.
“I find myself swimming against the current, and you can’t do that,” she said. “If you can’t join them, get off.”
As I began to read the article, I was asking myself: if Anne doesn’t like certain aspects of 21st century life, she doesn’t have to participate them. She can do whatever she wants.
Or can she, when everyone else around her is immersed in 21st century life?
Let’s say that I wanted to accompany Anne, a former art teacher, to a museum. I’d probably grumble if I had to write a letter to Anne, rather than just shooting off an email. Knowing myself, I wouldn’t even send her a letter as she understands the term; since my handwriting is atrocious, I’d just type something on a word processor, find a stamp, stick it in an envelope, and mail it. I would then prepare for my museum visit by consulting numerous online sources, probably including some “for dummies” online material.
Because of a combination of factors – these online inclinations, my cultural background, and my personality – I would treat the trip to the art museum as a goal to be accomplished. Prepare for trip. Check. Meet art expert. Check. Acquire knowledge from art expert. Check.
I obviously never knew Anne, but I suspect that her thoughts of a trip to an art museum would include the verb “savor.”
And I don’t mean “Savor. Check.”
Some of this has nothing to do with the technological revolution, but it all illustrates how we make assumptions about how society should be. You should have a smartphone. You should have an online presence. You should believe certain things if you want to work at certain places.