Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 01 2004

I noticed a new Land Rover up on a pedestal at the…

I noticed a new Land Rover up on a pedestal at the corner of Nanjing East Road and Dunhua North Road yesterday, and it caused me to wonder what was fueling society’s need for these kinds of vehicles. Surely our practical need for them hasn’t increased in the last decade. If anything it’s decreased, due to people being able to do more at home via the Internet.

But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Even people in the 70’s didn’t look like they were able to handle much, what with the clothing styles, long hair and post-flower-power trappings, but when it came right down to it, they had to slug through their days gathering information and dealing with life manually because they had no other choice, and they knew they could deal with it. It was much the same even the 80’s, when BBS’s started popping up. But when the Internet came into popular use in the 90’s, suddenly things began to change. People began driving SUVs, for example, and the rugged outdoor theme came into vogue. Musicians began spurning electric sounds and raw grunge music became popular. Much has been made about how TV changed the lifestyles of people starting in the 50’s. TV provided easy entertainment, but it didn’t provide much aside from that. The Internet, however, did.

Today, more people stay at home more often, at most commuting between the office and a home in the suburbs, and getting a lot more of their daily chores done online. If I want to know something, instead of going out and asking someone or going to the library, I google it. Send a letter? email. Watch a movie? Download it or watch a DVD. Find a certain item? Look on eBay or Amazon. So many tasks that used to involve actual physical effort, engaging the environment directly, i.e. going out and looking, today only require sitting at your computer. We hardly have to even pick up a phone any more, and with the rapid pace of technological advances, our lives are only going to get easier. Is it any wonder that we as a society may be looking to shore up our collective self image? As people become more obese and out of shape due to increasingly sedentary lifestyles allowed by the ease of life provided by automated systems, we naturally begin to doubt whether we’re really capable of dealing with life ourselves, and this doubt manifests itself in our urge, nurtured from a childhood watching commercials telling us to buy ourselves out of our insecurities, to purchase the trappings of capability, e.g. SUVs with fake bullet hole stickers. Presenting an outward image of competence is how we’ve been trained to make up for the unease we feel when we realize, deep down in the bottom of our brains, that without any of what our ancestors spent millions of years considering challenges, there is no adaptation, no evolution, no room to grow and no future. So in defense we just pretend we’re ready.

Not that I have anything against the Internet; I think it’s great, and perhaps even a pivotal point in our evolution rather than a herald of its end. I simply wonder whether it’s just a coincidence that its arrival mirrors the rise of the SUV craze and other apparently self-reliance-related trends.

posted by Poagao at 3:29 am  

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