Smart phones. Smart homes. Connected lightbulbs. Connected refrigerators. 300 hours of new video uploaded every minute. 5 million likes on Facebook every minute. People that drive cars to pick up other people they don’t know. Cars that drive themselves.
Depending on which side of the digital divide you may fall, the previous list is either awe-inspiring or nauseating.
Technology has certainly taken a life of its own since the mid 1990’s internet boom, a period of digital revolution that will make the Industrial Revolution look pedestrian by comparison.
The impact of digital innovation is difficult to debate – whether you assign a positive or negative value to the rotary phone being replaced with a personal computer which fits in the palm of your hand, it’s impossible to argue the degree to which our lives have changed over the last 50 years.
What is more debatable however is whether the digitizing of nearly all aspects of our lives is positive for our society and country.
Regardless of which side of the political aisle you typically find yourself, our hard-working, independent, free-thinking American roots seem to be fundamentally at odds with the words most often associated with the latest and greatest digital innovation. Words like convenience, ease, and comfort feel like themes less associated with the American Dream and more commonly used to describe the fall of Rome.
As individuals grow more accustomed to convenience and ease we as a society become more accustomed to working less and receiving more. Working less and receiving more, where have we heard those words….ah yes, the Communist Manifesto.
While almost certainly not part of an Orwellian plot, the digitization of our country may, unintentionally, be driving our society to embrace themes that have driven the greatest civilizations of the past into oblivion. The next time you email or Uber or Tweet think about how it feels. Think about whether you are embracing individualism, privacy, and freedom or if you are making the very same concessions to convenience, luxury and comfort that have led to the destruction of every other “greatest country on earth”.