The Law of Unintended Consequences?

Homo Sapiens can be a very complicated species with its individual members capable of great consideration as well as great cruelty. Yet despite the latter, I still prefer to believe that the vast majority of human beings are honest, decent people who are just trying to get by in life. Yes, they may behave badly at times but much of this is likely to be down to circumstance. Yet, in this country, I think I am seeing a cultural change and, if I’m correct, it’s one that I don’t like.

Now I’m a great user of modern technology while being aware that that use can, itself, bring about unwanted change. The Law of Unintended Consequences, if you like. At the most extreme, that I’ve witnessed personally, it involved a man of about 25, walking across the road in front of my car with his eyes firmly on the screen of his mobile. Perhaps he was just trying to disprove the theory of evolution, ie that he was fit to survive anything. Almost at great personal cost, it must be said.

Earlier this year, my wife and I were having something to eat in the local pub in Eyam in Derbyshire. On the next table were a couple with their two children, a boy and a girl, aged about 12. Both children were on their mobiles playing a game of some sort while watching something on their tablets with headphones plugged in. There appeared to be little communication between the children or the parents and the children.

Travelling on the bus yesterday were a family of five with two young children sitting in the seats clearly marked for older and/or people with disabilities with another young girl sat on the other side of the aisle with her feet up across the seat playing a game on her mobile. Now, I’m pretty fit so have no problems walking to another seat or standing. My point is that it never seemed to occur to the parents or the children that they should act in any other way than they were; that is without noticing the world around them or displaying any thought for others. And just to be clear, there are a great many times when young people do offer me their seat and times when I gracefully accept.

So, what is my point? Well, it’s that if technology helps to create a society in which people are fixated on their screens, don’t notice others and communicate, without the aid of technology, less as a result, is that a problem or am I just getting older? And that’s before I mention predicted texting and the accidental outbreak of World War 3!


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