So, I was reading this article in AlterNet about how smartphones are killing us, and I probably didn’t have the normal reaction to it. While there are people clamoring for more and more regulation of “texting while” behaviors, I’m enjoying watching the process of social evolution happen right before my eyes.
And that includes removing specimens that are not good selections for positive traits.
Yes, I just called “texting while driving” an act of natural selection.
And really, texting while walking is right up there. Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise for exactly that reason – that people aren’t paying attention to where they’re going and so end up falling onto the third rail – but despite the obvious public outcry of indignant rage over how we could possibly let this happen (often tweeted remotely), I shrug and figure, it’s about damn time.
See, I’m not just paleo in diet. I’m a big meanyhead that believes that most if not all of our natural selection tendencies have kind of been clipped by technology. I’m not saying that I think technology is bad (really?! Where are you reading this, again?!), but I am saying that it’s up to us to adapt to our environments as much as we try to force our environments to adapt to us. And, for the record, I think we totally suck at forcing our environments to adapt to us, which is why we have such overwhelming problems with toxic food, pollution, and other everything’s-out-to-get-you elements.
I believe that if you’re too stupid to learn how to look where you’re going while you have your head in a shiny screen and you get yourself killed, you have done the gene pool a favor.
What about the children?! What about the families of the people left behind?!? THINK ABOUT THE KITTENS!!!
It sucks, but my statement stands: if the people left behind don’t learn from the mistake and teach themselves to pay attention – not to blame the technology, by the way – then natural selection moves on.
(The kittens are on their own. They can go mew and look cute at just about anyone and be okay. Happens all the time.)
Okay, that covers the bodily functions of the specimens of our species, but what is it doing to the fabric of society?
I tend to believe that we cannot effectively separate our definition of “society” from the species because society is how the species expresses itself – and I mean “express” in all the forms of the word. We’re integrating this technology into our social evolution, but what I find so bothersome with all the ZOMGDONTEXT’N’EAT!!!11!1 is that such outcries usually come with some ridiculous demand to change the rules of society for everyone and not just the terminally rude and/or stupid, kinda like that whole “cell phone gas vapor” thing. Colorado and Wyoming allegedly wanted to pass laws to prohibiting talking on a cell phone while gassing up.
Look, technology is the new shiny. It’s got NRE all over it. That dumb iPhone 5 commercial where people miss important events because ERMEGERDKIRTTEHR! sets the expectation that it’s okay to blow people off for their phones, and the people that take that message to the bank will be shunned by more honest company. Technology on this scale creates new lines in the loyalties of people everywhere, and that creates activity in the evolution of society.
These are all just growing pains. Lamenting about how people don’t communicate the way they used to dumb because of course they don’t – and they shouldn’t. We are seeing the advent of the future history we’ve all been waiting for. Each of us carries the entire wisdom of the whole of human history in our hands, accessible to every walk of life. Technology is no longer a class-based luxury but rather an integral and necessary part of life for all social strata. You can’t get a job without a cell phone more and more of the time, and there is even a trend where bringing hard copies of your resume to an interview only proves that you have a printer – and does nothing else for you.
What is interesting about the people that lament and bitch and whine and are just absolutely shocked at how rude/oblivious/dangerous all these nose-in-the-tablet are is that we can additionally select against another social ail: over-reactive short-sighted snottiness.