New Technology Ancient Wisdom

I was having lunch with a Gen Y friend yesterday, and I criticised Facebook. Luckily coffee had just been served and lunch had not arrived yet. She pulled out her iPad, tethered it to her iPhone, and adjusted the shoulder pads on her 80s retro print dress, in which she looked great. She fixed me with a penetrating glare. I knew lunch was off to a good start.

It seems in my Gen X naivety I had gone about the Facebook thing in entirely the wrong way. Within days of signing up to Facebook, I had nearly 100 friends. I knew what several people I hadn’t seen for years, and had never had a conversation with, ate for breakfast. I had inspirational slogans, new age platitudes and conspiracy theories flashing before my eyes like some kind of Bergman nightmare sequence. I understood that Jane liked to share a fabulous little bottle of cab-sav with Eddie when he got back from overseas.

It’s not that I didn’t think about how to use the medium. I wrote a haiku in which I used Facebook as a metaphor for moments in time and the melancholy of seasonal change. In seventeen syllables. I got three comments. From the same person. Myra Wenttomyschool posted that her boyfriend had switched from imported beer to a local brand. She got 39 comments.

My inimitable Gen Y lunch date pointed out that light chat with friends doesn’t have to be deep, intelligent or meaningful. It began to dawn on me why I was never invited back to all those mother’s groups. But it also got me thinking about the potential in technology like Facebook, Twitter, apps, blogs, etc.

We are at an unprecedented time in history. What if we used this copious communications cornucopia we all carry around in our pockets and backpacks to enrich our minds and feed our starving souls? Imagine if we began sharing our feelings upon beginning to understand precisely how Aristotle differed from Plato and how that effected all of western philosophy?

Now, I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever think of this, after all, I failed rocket-scientist school. However, I don’t think I’m wrong in identifying a gap. In the “Age of Knowledge” how much of what we are sharing is actually knowledge? Does that fact that 20 thousand people read a blog entry mean that the fact that I sometimes put too much butter on my toast is relevant?

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