December 29, 2008 |
I don’t know what made me think of this – watching news on TV way too much over the weekend or maybe the end of the year which often makes many of us (me included) do soul-searching contemplating our achievements over the previous year or plans for the next one – but I have come to the conclusion that something is terribly wrong with the world we live in and that I happen to cover here daily writing about revolutionary web applications or innovative new gadgets.
I have come to thinking about it when watching reports on TV about the new Israel’s Gaza strikes and people mentioning the new stage of the conflict on Twitter – some of the Twitter users sounding too irritated to have to watch all the depressing news from Gaza because of being subscribed to “breaking news” search on Twitter and promising to unsubscribe not to be exposed to the huge volume of sad news.
In fact, I am more than a little surprised to see no one in the tech blogosphere seems to be heavily involved in discussing the role of Twitter in the Gaza events as usually this is the first thing we want to discuss whenever something really terrible happens – like it was in the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks. For some reason today people seem to watch and try to comprehend the problem without analyzing how good Twitter is in reporting the news from the conflict area.
I personally don’t want to blame any of the parties for the new outburst of conflict in the region as I know there are arguments pro and against both of them. In fact, I think that in any war there will most certainly be things both sides can be accused of. But this is obvious and is not something I am mostly concerned about, actually: my concern is about the two very different worlds we live in and the devastating contrast between them.
The first world is the one we in the technology blogosphere cover on a daily basis – filled with iPhone, Twitter and thousands of applications that allow us to throw sheep at each other on Facebook. This world is nice and shiny and it offers tons of news or rumors about various gadgets that everyone in the world is supposed to crave for – things like iPhone or Wii gaming console. In this world a child will be happy as soon as he turns into a happy owner of a gadget of his dream and happiness is often measured as a number of things a person owns.
But unfortunately right here on the very same planet we have a totally different world – the one where people hear sounds of explosions every few minutes and can tell the sound of a bomber from that of a fighter. This is a very different world most of us don’t even think about and certainly are unable to imagine how to live in a world where it does not really matter what laptop or phone you use. In fact, happiness is much simpler here: it can easily be described as the situation where you and your loved ones are alive and hopefully healthy. It may be hard to believe for some of us but nothing else actually matters in that world.
The gap between these two worlds is huge and I don’t know many people from our nice and cozy world who would dare to cross the border and get to that second world – to help and to support. What’s more, I would not want to condemn anyone for the willingness to stay in our comfortable world as I feel I myself am too much of a coward to dare to be in Gaza right now, for example.
And when I start to think about this second world where people are still falling victims of wars right now, in the 21st century, I have a feeling that the technology we brag about so much – things like iPhone or Facebook – does not matter and should not matter at all. In fact, the technology is supposed to empower humans and if it empowers us to kill each other in a more sophisticated manner using the most advanced tools, I don’t think this technology should have the right to exist at all.
Sure, a cell phone is a great invention you should be grateful for if you have friends or family in places like Gaza right now or Mumbai when the city was attacked but it does not really matter how many songs you will be able to play with the built-in memory of the phone or how good photos you can shoot with its camera. No, it is perfectly enough if the phone is able to make a call – and if the person you are trying to reach can answer is the only thing that matters. Does it matter if the phone is an iPhone or some first generation device that still manages to run 3 or even 5 days without charging?
Really, when tragedies like this one happen in this world I feel like we, those living on the other side where everything is safe and calm, are really focused on totally wrong things and the media (confession: me included) only adds to the noise with constantly repeated news of the latest gadgets introduced to the market. No, really, the technology is worth nothing unless it can help solve real problems like preventing wars and helping people actually understand each other and come to agreements. Everything that is beyond such goals is hardly important at all and is not worth any attention, I think.
So at least I know one New Year’s resolution for myself now: try to think every day about how happy you are that your beloved ones are safe and with you and stop focusing on the fact that you’ve been using your notebook for more than a year now and constantly feeling the need to switch to a newer model for a multitude of strained reasons. Sorry about the rant but I simply had to say this here: technology is supposed to serve good purposes or it is worth nothing.