Life in Amazing Times

So I downloaded a new Mos Def single a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a great song by the mighty Mos Def called “Life in Marvelous Times” (iTunes link).  It’s a pretty depressing song, but it’s got a great beat.  It came out right around Thanksgiving, and I’m sure it was timed to give us listeners a jolt of reflection.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting in my head as opposed to on the blog, but I’d like to take a moment to remark on exactly how amazing things are.  Not that we don’t have tons of challenges to champion, and shit to do:  but just to take notice of what we’re able to do in the world we’re living in.

I have a phone that I walk around with in my pants pocket.  10 years ago, this was a luxury that cost beyond ten times what I have affordable to me now, and it was at five times as expensive.  18 years ago, I was a senior in high school and this was still pretty much science fiction.  

The interface on my iPhone is something out of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It’s now rumored to be available at Walmart for $99.  The special effects (CGI) that were used to fake it on the tv series cost thousands.  You can have it in your pocket for peanuts, by comparison.

13 years ago, it cost me $30 a month for something like five hours of Internet use A MONTH.  To go over was something like $.30 a minute at 14.4kbps.  My phone, even at what we think of as crappy EDGE speeds talks to SPACE (as Louis C.K. puts it) and it’s unbelievably more powerful, smaller, faster and cheaper than how i connected to MUDs back in 1995 — and I am online all the time… on my phone… which, as stated here talks to space, even as it sits in my pocket.

And that device connects me to more people than it would as just a phone.  I probably spend more time on my phone on Twitter than doing anything else.

Social networking is a practice, not a technology.  But thanks to Social Networking technology, I’ve discovered brand new kinships (@moehlert, @briandusablon, @pipwerks, @nudoru) — real emerging friendships that span beyond the shared tech.  I’ve rediscovered and been able to develop abiding respect and collaborations with people (@mobilemind, @jpcampbell) that were professional acquaintences for years, but somehow we never “connected” until we discovered each other virtually.  And then this very week, I found a friend who moved away when I was about six years-old — through Facebook.  He is a person I’ve not quite stalked online, but when I’ve been in the mindset to search for people, his would be the first name I’d look for — and we’re talking maybe 12 of my 35 years — for the one kid I’d share my action figures with — almost three decades ago.  10 years ago, reconnecting would require private investigation and it would be something akin to stalking.  30 years ago it was barely a reverie.  Today, it’s a sleepless early morning with a five month-old crying, and I was too tired/bored to do anything more productive than to search Facebook… and become just inexplicably happy.

And his response when I “friended” him on Facebook?

 “Glad you found *me*! Do you know how many Aaron Silvers there are??”

I guess he had been looking, too. 🙂

So, we live in a period of time where the economy around the world is slowing at a hyperbolic pace, while the violence, strife and famine around the world is now globally felt — not just pictures and Sally Struthers commercials anymore.  There are technologies and capabilities that allow scary, dangerous people to organize and carry out unbelievable acts of destruction, chaos and horror.  They can coordinate with smartphones just like mine and yours.

And/or at the very same time we can connect.  We can share.  We can forge new and incredibly complex relationships.  We can reconnect with people whom you would never expect to see again in a lifetime.  

Family, friends, regular readers or followers would label me correctly as an optimist (maybe even a dreamer), but I’m not one to just gush unabashedly.  So, it is strange for me to feel beyond just geeked-out and just plain ol’ “happy.”

I found my friend.  And inside me, the little kid whose friend moved away pretty much the whole of my life ago is pretty happy.  It’s probably weird.  It *sounds* weird to me.  It sounds like the kind of thing for which I normally rank on people (namely Facebook users).  So color me hypocrite.

And the thing that really gets me (and gets me really geeked out) is this:  my daughters are BORN with this world.  They didn’t have to learn it or build up to this point.  They already have it to start out.

I wonder what they’ll build it up to…

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