Is Society In a Rut?

ears ago, when I was a young college student, I was in a class where we were discussing a well-known and controversial work by the political theorist Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History and the Last Man.”  The basic premise of Fukuyama’s treatise was that the nations of the world were on an unstoppable march towards freedom and democratic rule. Might that cause a society in a rut?

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

Is Society in a Rut? Are We at the End of History?

Many people at the time were critical of Fukuyama’s assertions. Even Fukuyama himself later backtracked on some of his arguments. Still, others can’t help but wonder if Fukuyama might have been on to something, even if it wasn’t in the way he imagined. One such person is Kurt Andersen, who wrote a provocative essay for Vanity Fair back in 2013, “You Say You Want a Devolution?”:

“For most of the last century, America’s cultural landscape—its fashion, art, music, design, entertainment—changed dramatically every 20 years or so. But these days, even as technological and scientific leaps have continued to revolutionize life, popular style has been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new…..Since 1992, as the technological miracles and wonders have propagated and the political economy has transformed, the world has become radically and profoundly new. (And then there’s the miraculous drop in violent crime in the United States, by half.)

Here is what’s odd…

Anderson continues…

During these same 20 years, the appearance of the world (computers, TVs, telephones, and music players aside) has changed hardly at all, less than it did during any 20-year period for at least a century. The past is a foreign country, but the recent past—the 00s, the 90s, even a lot of the 80s— looks almost identical to the present. This is the First Great Paradox of Contemporary Cultural History.”

Is Society in a Rut?
Is Society in a Rut?

The Blurring of the Decades

I would only nitpick with the last part of Andersen’s argument. For some reason I can recognize “’80s style” when I see it, along with the 1970s, 1960s, 1950s and so forth. Yet I think the larger part of his argument holds a lot of weight. Try this experiment some time… Turn on a TV sitcom or movie that you’re not familiar with, and try to figure out what decade it’s from. The 1990s, 2000s (“oughties”!), or 2010s. I’m amazed by how often I’m wrong in my predictions. Maybe I’m not focusing on the right elements?

On a related note, I know how common it is for the elders in our society to denounce the music that younger generations listen to. That happens every with generation. But is today’s popular music actually worse than before? Over at Scientific American, John Mattis asks: “Is Pop Music Evolving, or Is It Just Getting Louder?”.

“A group of researchers undertook a quantitative analysis of nearly half a million songs to look for widespread changes in music’s character over the years. The findings, published online July 26 in Scientific Reports, show that some trends do emerge over the decades—none of them necessarily good. (Scientific American and Scientific Reports are both parts of Nature Publishing Group.)

The researchers based their analysis on the Million Song Dataset, a publicly available 280-gigabyte file that provides a sort of background sketch—name, duration, tempo, and so on—of songs from nearly 45,000 artists. Of the million songs therein, 464,411 came out between 1955 and 2010 and include data on both the sonic characteristics and the year of release.”

Their Findings?

While the average loudness of popular music has increased, there has been a relentless and steady decline in the variation of pitch and in “timbre” (defined as “the character or quality of a musical sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity,” according to Oxford) since the peak was reached in the 1960s. I guess it’s understandable now when people complain that today’s music “all sounds the same.”

Some other random observations…

Cell Phones

Cell phones are all the same rectangular “brick” design, in contrast to the early 2000s when there was a large and diverse variety of headsets to choose from. The Nokia 3310, the Motorola Razr, the Blackberry Pearl, and the Sony Ericsson, among others, were icons of the time and unique in their own way – now many of us use indistinguishable gray and black touchscreen “slabs” with only incremental changes with each new release – have we truly reached the end of phone design?

The Internet

I remember going on the Internet in 1996. The average computer had a 75MHz processor and a whopping 16 MB of RAM. Obviously video was out of the question. But surfing the world wide web with only text and pictures was not any problem whatsoever. Today, even while computing power has increased stratospherically in the last 20 years, it still seems to take a long time for computers to boot up and applications to launch. Web pages still freeze up and browsers crash regularly. Have we made zero progress or are we expecting too much from our machines?

Cars

Automobiles have improved in terms of having all kinds of technology at our fingertips, but one huge thing has not: increased gas mileage. One might think that we could have vehicles that regularly get 70 – 80 miles per gallon on the highway by now, but that goal appears far-off. In spite of the fact that mileage has improved a little in the last few years, the overall trend has remained essentially flat since the 1980s.

The Space Program

There’s a huge media frenzy about a manned space mission to Mars. Only one problem: we humans are seriously out of practice when it comes to long-distance space flight. The last manned mission to the moon was carried out by the Apollo 17 way back in 1972!

The Movie Industry

Is it just me, or is Hollywood stuck in a repeated “time loop” of “sequel-itis” and “re-make-itis”? Have we run out of new stories to tell? Over at HuffPost, Liat Kornowski and Christopher Rosen go a step further. He argues that most new “original” Hollywood features are really just combining elements from multiple previous films. From their 2014 article “13 Recent Movies That Prove Hollywood All But Recycles Itself”:

“It’s hard to come up with a winning recipe in Hollywood. A successful movie must attract the masses, garner positive reviews (or at least passable ones) and live on in merchandise, DVDs and even a possible sequel. So what’s a producer/director/writer/executive in Tinseltown to do? Why, repeat a previously proven success, of course. When a recent slew of movie trailers and plot summaries were revealed, we couldn’t help but think: We’ve seen this before. All of it. From storylines to soundtracks to overarching themes and target audiences, from roles the lead actor and actress have already played to characters whose traits and occurrences have unfolded in other films….”

Their article, while certainly humorous and tongue-in-cheek, certainly makes for an interesting read.

The Job Market

We live in a revolutionary “new information and social media economy.” But many still doing the same kinds of jobs and performing the same kinds of work that have been done for a long time. The well-off continue to work as doctors, lawyers, and managers. Those in the middle classes continue to work as teachers, nurses, and truck drivers. People on the lower rungs continue to work as cooks, cashiers, and janitors. For all their influence on society, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat employ a total of around 30,000 combined.

Innovation – or the Lack of it…

Steve Denning penned an article for Forbes in 2015: “Why U.S. firms are dying: Failure to Innovate”. In a nutshell, Denning argues that between CEOs insatiable appetite for stock buybacks (which were actually illegal until 1982!) and consumers’ endless demands that everything be “faster, cheaper, and more convenient,” innovation is breaking down. Most companies are failing to offer products and services that are truly new and groundbreaking.

What do you think, readers? Are we, as a society, “in a rut” and are we, in a sense, reaching the “end of history”? Have we lost the ability to explore and come up with new ideas? Am I being way too pessimistic and cynical about our progress, or lack thereof? Are we as a society doing better than I’m giving credit for?

( Photo by faster panda )

25 Responses to Is Society In a Rut?

  1. Hi Steve – I think this article hits on deeper issues than most of us realize. All that you write is true. But I think the cause is mass homogenization. Here’s what I mean… The vast majority of American kids go through the public school system. Many go on to college. This is now considered part of the American Way. But it’s also part of the American indoctrination. The education system is mostly about socializing kids. More specifically, it’s about forcing square pegs into round holes. By the time Junior graduates high school or college, he’s already been conditioned to a conventional belief set. This has been true since at least the 1950s. Previous generations either didn’t attend public school at all, or dropped out before completing.

    Then we have the media. This includes the news media (active and print), the movie industry, television and radio. 90% of that media is controlled by just six major conglomerates. It’s safe to say that nothing gets aired, produced, published or printed unless it fits within corporate “standards”.

    Then we have government. Since 1933 government has increasingly infiltrated every crevice of human existence in America. As it has, it has increasingly defined right and wrong, as well as preferred behavior. Much of this is done through law, but also through the tax code. And of course, with just two political parties, we have only two political platforms. Both platforms are tightly controlled and manipulated. In close conjunction with the media, the political parties are able to define – and limit – the issues at stake.

    We can’t forget corporate America either. As more people have become corporate “suits”, they’ve become more docile, and less prone to independent thought. After all, if you’re going to become a successful part of an organization, you must blend. In my experience in large organizations, blending is more important to the success of your career than innovation and creativity. There have been dozens of articles written about how the corporate system squashes innovation and creativity, all while claiming that those are the precise qualities they seek in their employees.

    All of these systems have taken hold over the past 100 years or so, but in increasing measures. More recently, political correctness has entered the national mindset. As Glenn Beck said, “political correctness doesn’t change us, it shuts us up.” Increasingly, the public is accepting its marching orders, even if only reluctantly. We learn that it’s better to go along to get along. Don’t make waves, don’t express how you truly feel. It’s an involuntary dumbing down, that’s strictly enforced in government, the school system and corporate America. If we don’t comply, careers can be destroyed, lawsuits filed, and at the extreme, jail sentences meted out.

    What we have going on in 21st Century America is a more subtle – though no less destructive – form of what happened in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. We increasingly go through life as automotron’s, carefully guarding our words and actions, so as not to offend anyone. Increasingly, we live in a state of fear. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    We’re even encouraged to report “suspicious behavior”, in a kind of legally enforced paranoia. The subtle implication is Trust no one but The System itself, not your neighbors, your coworkers, your friends or even your family. As if family and community were already under enough assault from everything else.

    On top of that, as no time in American history, we been trained to believe that we must all aspire to the same goals in life. Those include getting a college education for ourselves or our children, getting a good job with generous benefits in a large organization, buying a house in a subdivision, and having a golden retirement.

    There’s no room in any of that for the freethinker. The entire system is squashing innovation and creativity. You must do what everyone else wants, and aspire to what everyone else wants. That’s where you find success. There’s no room for the individual in any of that.

    So to wrap my long-winded comment, our society is moving toward a spirit crushing sameness that increasingly tolerates no variation. Despite having more education and information that any generation in history, we’re under siege. Independent thought is gone – at best it will put us out of step with the majority. At worst, it gets in trouble. We’ve learned to take our marching orders.

    If The System tells us that we can’t succeed without college, we’ll borrow six figures the pay for it. If The System tells us that we need to live in the same type of house as everyone else, then we select our box and move our lives into it. If The System tells us our lives will be epic failures if we don’t have a golden retirement, we live in mortal fear of the consequences if we don’t. If The System tells us that God is dead and all who believe in Him are ignorant and dangerous, and that science, technology, medicine, education, law and the political system are the Ultimate Truth, then we become secular.

    In the homogenized world that we’ve been forced into, our greatest fear is being different. But true success in life comes from being different – being the person who you are – and being comfortable with it. I believe this explains the concurrent rise in addiction to drugs and alcohol. It also explains the growing number of people who are becoming economically disenfranchised, and the millions who are ending up in the prison system. There’s no alternative for the person who can’t fit in anymore.

    I don’t mean to steal your thunder, but the subject you’ve touched on is bigger than any of us know. It’s a reflection of the death of individuality, creativity and innovation that has become the unexpected outcome of mass homogenization. Different is dangerous. Compliance is safe. The rest flows naturally.

    OK, I’m done now.

  2. Don’t worry about “stealing my thunder”, Kevin! In fact, I was hoping to get the ball rolling and see if others wanted to offer their perspective. I like your point, however, that doing something “outside the norm” these days is more likely to earn you ridicule and ostracism as opposed to admiration. Even though we live in a society that prides itself on individualism, maybe we’re not quite as individualistic as we think we are!

  3. Individualism is an American ideal, mostly from our past. The reality of today is compliance. But it still sounds good to declare independence. And we’re all about sounding good these days. I think this is part of what drives the early retirement movement, the desire to crash out and achieve that individuality, that can only come once you’ve broken free of the system.

  4. I’m not sure I see it this way at all. Sure their are possible rut’s in the things you mention.

    Cell phones- What is a phone for? To talk or communicate. That was all a phone was ever suppose to be for. It not only does that but in several different forms. You can talk, you can text, you can email. I’m not sure what else you would be looking for out of this.
    My phone comes in very handy. GPS, internet etc. You can program your house utilities or look into your refrigerator with an app while your shopping from a supermarket. Are you basing this on how they look? There are new products coming out all the time for these devices. It’s more app-based now. More products are also coming out with wifi in them that go along with supporting these apps. Which in turn you use on your phone.

    Internet- Boot up? There is not much need to shut a computer off anymore. Mine hasn’t been off in four years except to upgrade something or when I travel and pack it in my luggage, Yes things do crash from time to time but overall for as much as your online or on a computer and the millions that are using these things all at once it is very reliable and fast enough. I never wait more than 3 or 4 seconds for anything to show up on my screen that I am looking for.

    Movies- I’ll admit they are fairly bad for the most part. I really can’t remember when the last time I went to a movie. I am surprised that theaters are still operating at all. I can watch any movie from my living room. Theaters are overpriced. There has been some great movies and television series that have come out in the last five years. They are not on network TV. Network TV has reached its end in my opinion. There are plenty of streaming services that are now developing there own series and movies. They are not handcuffed by FCC rules or government intervention.

    Cars- Gasoline cars are finally starting to die. It’s a slow death for sure. I’m starting to see more and more charging stations for electric cars popping up. I actually saw one the other day in front of a Khols department store in my city. Which finally admitted in the last five years that the manufacturing era is really over. Volvo announced this year that they will no longer be producing gasoline cars as of I believe 2019.

    Music- I’m stuck in the classic rock era. I don’t pay much attention to it. I can’t make an intelligent response to that topic.

    Job market- It is true that the wealthy kids get more opportunity than a kid from a different social class. I believe it has everything to do with the insane affordability of college now. I was thinking of going to online college and the tuition was 28,000 a year. Why? The price is completely out of whack. More and more companies are going to automated systems. It is smart for them. Machines don’t call in sick. Don’t strike. Don’t need a salary or a lunch break or medical benefits. Companies don’t need to carry workers comp. There are fewer jobs to be had and fewer opportunities.
    The real job market now is self-employment. Creating your own business.

    I think you have touched on things that could be in a rut. There have been thousands and thousands of changes going on all the time but maybe not in these areas.
    Kevin to me touched on a much bigger issue that is more a root cause. It’s people that are being herded into these ruts by an out of control system and it starts at an early age.
    We talk about this all the time on here. Changing our thinking is critical to freedom of thought, expression and living in today’s world if you want to feel or have any kind of individualism.

  5. Hi Tim – I of course went bigger picture with my comments, but that’s what I do 😉 But to Steve’s basic point, I agree that we’re becoming stuck in subtle ways. Much has to do with risk reduction. You see it with investing (though it’s largely a myth), zero inventory levels, skeleton staffing, over-regulation/compliance, recycling of old ideas, etc. It’s zero-tolerance, zero-mistakes, because razor thin profit margins won’t support otherwise. Companies are raising capital to buy back their stock, not to invest in new plant, equipment or product lines. There’s no wiggle room left anymore, no slack. In that environment, creativity and innovation are marginalized.

    Charles Hugh Smith talked once about how the basic passenger jetliner hasn’t changed fundamentally since the early 1960s. Another excellent example is alternative energy. We’re the world’s largest energy user so you’d think we’d be on the forefront of developing alternatives. Nope. Europe leads us in solar and wind, Brazil in ethanol, South Korea in burning garbage for energy, and I believe China in hydro power. Very little of our electricity is generated by alternatives, compared to other countries. Denmark gets close to half it’s power from wind, and we don’t get even 1%, despite much greater wind potential. It’s always the same outcome – play it safe, don’t take chances.

    We’ve reached a point in our social evolution where people mostly want to put in their time and get out. Building a better mousetrap makes for good Americana stories, to convince ourselves that “we still got it”, but we’re largely mentally and emotionally retired. Again I think this is born out by the early retirement movement.

  6. Very good points Kevin
    If I think about it which I have. This is really the first time I wrote this but, I come to the conclusion that I became bored with this country a long time ago. I used to think we were the best and most advanced country in the world. That is until I started going overseas.
    We are usually 10 years behind alot of advanced countries or modern western countries.

    I always tell this story. In 2000 I went to London. It was really the first time I was ever overseas. I was struck how mainstream cell phones were over there. Everybody had them. We were still in the infancy stage of this. Only 1 in 7 had them over here or if they did it wasn’t used like over there.
    It was really the first time I realized how slow or behind the times we were.

    I’m always reading about people who fly overseas to get the latest cancer treatment or surgeries for different things.

    I have grown bored with the people here. I tend to gravitate toward very smart people Why? because I’m bored with the basic American mentality. Every time I go somewhere I always feel like I am in a room full of overgrown infants.

    So I guess I would be considered in this rut status we speak of here. I understand the premise of the article. I don’t disagree with it.

  7. I chuckled when you wrote “Every time I go somewhere I always feel like I am in a room full of overgrown infants.” Doug Casey refers to Americans as “Boobus Americanus”, as if labeling a human subspecies (yes, he lives abroad and has traveled to dozens of countries). But there’s unfortunate truth to your observation and his. Our country celebrates adolescence and immaturity, as if the preferred state of existence is to never grow up. Look at all this victimhood crap, as if grown adults are telling the teacher on someone who made them feel bad. I’ve been made to feel bad many times in life. If I park my life on those unfortunate episodes then I never grow up.

    Then we see 50 year old women dressing and acting like they’re still teenagers. Or middle aged men drinking beer and acting as if they’re still in college (where they experienced the best years of their lives – how sad). A lady who lived around the corner from us was describing two middle aged couples who lived on her cul-de-sac. She said every weekend the four of them get drunk, come out and act like teenagers, even though both couples have small kids. It was funny/not funny how she said “me and my husband are the only people on this cul-de-sac who are getting older”. Bingo! That describes millions of biological adults.

    When I was a kid growing up we wanted nothing more than to grow up to be adults. Most adults were role models. Today, kids don’t grow up, and adults want to be kids again. Why should Junior grow up when Mom and Dad refuse to? I don’t get it.

  8. So did I. All I wanted when I was a kid was to be an adult. Now that I am one it is disappointing to see what happened to adulthood in America. It isn’t there anymore.
    It drives me insane when I see a 50 year old women with tattoos all over her. Wearing these spandex pants that were clearly made for size 4 models. Or the guys you describe above. I know plenty of them. The sad thing to me is that they don’t see this as a issue.
    We have a world full of cry babies now.

    So yeah, I have grown tired of the culture here. Maybe I’m wrong but I stopped trying to be part of the American culture anymore.

    I plan on living abroad someday. I never would have thought I would ever say that.
    Our president is a prime example. I’m not saying he is good or bad. It really doesn’t matter. He is a classic American buffoon and the leader that reflects our culture as a whole.

    So yeah, I would say we are in a rut.

  9. HI Kevin: I could very easily see myself living in another country like you and Tim were discussing, and it has nothing to do with politics. I agree wholeheartedly that Americans have a hard time growing up. I know of too many young adults (in their 20’s) who have never held any kind of paid work, even as a teen…I’m talking mowing lawns, babysitting, etc., not just full-time work. Their parents still coddling them. And I know those kind of neighbors you were speaking of. They’re everywhere. America is far behind other countries in many areas, like environmentalism. I’ve been to Europe years ago and saw for myself how well many of them live. No, it’s not large homes and big cars that we consider “making it” here, but they have good lives and many amenities available to them. They get out everyday and enjoy their local parks that are clean and safe. They go to museums and cultural events, not just sports. Not bashing sports, but it has become fanaticism here. So, yes, I agree with Tim and you and feel like we’re in a societal rut. It’s the soul-crushing conformity that you often speak of. Everyone wanting to behave like juveniles.

  10. This is out in left field, Bev, but I wonder how much of is has to do with the uniquely American fear/denial of death. As a people who believe we can conquer everything that is, death remains a nagging obstacle. So we pretend we’re only getting younger, and act juvenile so we can tell ourselves that the Grim Reaper can’t ever take us. It might also explain the pay-any-price for healthcare we’re seeing. I’m speculating of course.

  11. I think that’s a really good point, Kevin. One I hadn’t thought of. With aging comes death, and if you don’t age (in your mind) you believe you have “won” so to speak. It’s a mental mind game we play I suppose. This is not to discount those who are young at heart, which is an entirely different thing. These people know their age and health status but still prefer to think optimistically. I do think your point of fear of death is very valid in this discussion.

  12. It’s possible it plays into it some. Especially in our culture, we value youth too much. We don’t value the elderly. I’m not sure why that is. By the time a person reaches their 70’s they have been through all the ups and downs that come with life. Normally by this point, we have made 1000 mistakes and have gained the valuable wisdom that we don’t have as a younger person.

    I for one get frustrated. At my age which is 53, I feel smarter than I ever did when I was younger. I know I have much to offer but nobody seems to ever want to listen. I have no outlet. Maybe this is why I comment so much on here. At least it is an outlet.

    Maybe this is why so many people never seem to want to grow up. With adulthood comes age. The older you get in America the less anybody pays attention to you. It should be the exact opposite.

    My wife comes from Lebanon. She was born there. The culture over there is much different. They value the wisdom and experience that an elderly person has to offer. They seek advice. There, the older one gets the more they are respected. It is the exact opposite here.

  13. Tim & Bev – It wasn’t always this way. Until the 1960s, American culture also valued age. It was seen as wise, stablizing and the natural age for leadership and direction. Look at the movies from before the 1960s. They usually had middle-age and older people in key roles, and often in starring roles. Early TV was dominated by older actors, like George Burns and Gracie Allen, the cast of I Love Lucy, Robert Young, Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley, etc. Then in the 60s, the youth movement took America by storm as the Baby Boomers were being catered to at every turn. Teenage boys were the new heros, teenage girls were the new sex symbols. The middle aged Superman of the 1950s TV show morphed into more like Superboy by the 1990s. All the superheros were in their 20s at best. Women over 30 were excluded. The money was with the kids, and Hollywood moguls were all into them. I think this also explains the sexual assault/harassment wave that, if you notice, is primarily in Hollywood and the media. It’s like these big shots are obsessed with young women, in more ways than we ever wanted to think.

    I agree with you Tim, I feel that I have more to offer than at any other time in my life. Yet I probably can’t get a job any more. Since I’ve been self-employed/contract/commissioned sales for the past 20+ years, I wouldn’t be welcome in an organization. (Being a free-thinker won’t help either, as they all want automotrons.) At the same time as we’ve experienced the wholesale shift to youth, we’ve become a throw away society, that also has no trouble throwing away people. That’s falling on the youth now as well. We’re paying for this shift in more ways than we think. If older folks don’t matter, then younger ones won’t, and eventually, NOBODY matters. You’ll work on Thanksgiving Day (while the corporate chieftains enjoy dinner at home with THEIR families), and if we no longer need you, we’ll pink slip you out the door.

    I’m incredibly blessed to have become a “mobile creative”. It’s given me the benefit of being able to watch it all from afar, while still remaining economically relevant. I feel for those over 50 (and even those over 40) who haven’t broken out – yet. Which is why I’ve dedicated to this website to helping people find alternative ways to live and to earn a living. I refuse to get into line, follow the herd, and become irrelevant. There’s too much to live for, and I’m not done yet.

  14. I would hate to have any kind of job now. I am very happy to have made the decision to start my own business. It isn’t easy but every time there is an issue I remind myself that I could have an idiot boss and be stuck in some brain-dead job.

    I tell my kids all the time. I remember when I was a kid and holidays rolled around nothing was opened. I mean nothing. Not a gas station or a 7-11. We have been forced into chasing the dollar instead of honoring tradition and family and affording all to have a holiday.

    You are so right about TV. I do remember watching the Brady Bunch on Friday night. This was the big show on TV.
    I do think that society as a whole has become beaten down enough to the point of this rut that was original topic. Right? LOL.

    I’m grateful I am not part of that matrix anymore. I don’t know how many readers you have but I hope it reaches enough to make a difference. If anything maybe it would spur people on to explore other ways of doing things.
    I wish more people would comment. I know you have more than 5 or 6 readers.

  15. Unfortunately, it seems most people either have no opinion (don’t let themselves think about these things), or they’re afraid to comment. When you’re used to being forced to hold your tongue at work, in public places and in “polite company”, you guard your comments. But it’s perfectly fine to comment under an alias. I don’t store or release information, so it’s a safe space.

  16. Whew, I am so glad you said we can use an alias! I am limited to what I can say secondary to the above. This article, as well as the comments really touched home for me. I am in my fifties, and feel alone so many times. Older people really do have a great deal of wisdom to pass on, but no one seems to care about this any longer. I, too, am now “stuck in the rut” of trying very hard to reach retirement, so I can regain my freedom. Many jobs now treat you as an automaton, we now have to “play along to get along”, and are even told what we are to say, and the phrasing we can use. Several of my co-workers and I use our cell phones to text and call each other, and this has helped us keep our sanity! One day I will be able to actually relate specifics, and I am anxiously awaiting that day! In the meantime, I so enjoy your articles, and the comments that people have made. Your retirement articles in particular, have helped me regain my real time focus, and make that headway towards retirement!

  17. Wow! I’m sorry I don’t have the time to address each comment in the way Kevin has, but I wanted to thank all of you for such an interesting discussion. I feel like I touched a nerve here and that there’s so much more to address than what my original article entailed….it was kind of a “spur-of-the-moment” rant on my part, but I realize we need to spend just as much time discussing potential solutions as we do to naming the problems. Hope you all will have more to contribute!

  18. Actually Steve, the more I’ve thought about this topic, the more obvious it becomes that we’re all just scratching the surface. It’s true throughout our society, but it’s one of those phenomenon that’s so obvious we don’t see it. I’m glad you had your spur of the moment idea.

  19. Is it a rut? Or is it the dumbing down of society? I agree a 100% with Looking ahead! I was trained not to rock the boat and remember who signs your paycheck. I read more than I watch TV as it barely holds my interest. Computers were suppose to lessen paperwork but everything has to be printed off. Lord forbid your documents are not backed up and your computer crashes or dies. People are glued to cell phones instead of enjoying their surroundings. I don’t think they see their in a rut. Seems like society has moved so fast, yet it is like running in place. It’s a rat race and we are in a maze seeking the cheese.

  20. Hi Deb – Obviously, I spend most of my time on the internet. It’s what I do for a living. But I’ve taken to having daily sessions of Bible reading and prayer. I may spend 8 – 10 hours a day on the web, but only 30 – 60 minutes of scripture and prayer, but that short amount of time does more to center me on the bigger picture than hours on the web. It gives me the ability to step outside the technology bubble, and tap into timeless wisdom and inspiration. I refer to it as taking “the God’s eye view of the world”.

    It helps give me the detachment I need to do my work effectively, and I even find that it improves my production. I think that’s what’s missing today. Technology isn’t a bad thing. But when it becomes all-encompassing, it becomes the master, not the slave that it was properly meant to be. We seem to be ignoring the fact that technology is a tool. But in today’s world, it’s looking a lot more like 2001 A Space Oddessy, where everything is controlled by computers. It’s creating an antiseptic world where we’re slowly losing our humanity. That’s the real problem.

  21. Computers are just as much work as keeping track of paperwork. It’s a double-edged sword. It has cut down on quite a bit of paper clutter that builds up. It does make things like this blog reach people. Kevin would not be able to write this blog in this fashion if it wasn’t for computers.

    At the same time, it causes work in other ways. Everything needs to be backed up. I must get 75 emails a day. Most are junk but it still needs to be cleaned up. Then there are the updates, the security. Computers become outdated very quickly. Causing expense.
    Same with the phone.

    So it has made life different. I wouldn’t say easier at all but different.

    The cell phone issue is a huge problem. It’s not going to change.

    We have a huge portion of society that is quite honestly nothing but morons. Overgrown kids.

    It’s not going to change. It is only going to get worse. I take Kevin’s philosophy of just doing all I can to enhance my life enough without worrying about what others are doing.
    It’s sad but a fact of life now.

    I think technology has caused more isolation than anything else.

  22. Once again Tim your comments are right on the money. (I think it’s time for you to start a blog!) I’d never thought about the way technology is feeding immaturity. But when you realize how it enables people to insulate themselves from the real world, it makes perfect sense. This past Christmas season I was stunned by how many people (of all ages) were glued to their cellphones while shopping at the mall. It’s as if everyone is in their own little worlds. Talk about isolation! Technology is perfecting the ability to remain alone in a crowd. And oblivious. I don’t see that getting better either.

  23. Tim, I agree with what you and Kevin have been saying. I don’t like the isolation technology has caused but I have to accept the ways of the world, even when they don’t sit right with me. I don’t worry what others are doing. I am concerned and enhancing what the future holds… for me.

  24. Hi Deb – I think the dumbing down is putting us in a rut. The more we rely on machines, the more we lose our humanity and independence, and our ability to think clearly. I was on the phone for an hour today coodinating a new insurance policy with our local hospital. It’s amazing how complicated everything is, even with all the technology. It may be that we’re becoming mind-numbed by the technology. As I’ve said in other comments, Steve’s article is more true than we all realize.

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