One of the biggest delusions of my generation (the Millennials) and younger seems to be our dependance and preference to the digital world. Wether its used as an escape from a mundane reality or as a way to connect to thousands of people, we are embracing the digital as a kind of savior. The generation behind mine has no concept of a world without internet. When things happen in a world this connected, it all starts moving really really fast and our brains have no choice but to adapt or be left behind.
It saddens me that people my age don’t know anything, we just know how to find it. Rather then know how to make or build something we just know how to look it up on Wikipedia or how to fine-tune a Google search. There is a difference between knowing how to do something and knowing how to search for it online. When I travelled to South Africa back in 2011 I read a ton of books on what the country was like. It wasn’t until I was actually in Cape Town, climbing Table Mountain, swimming with Great White Sharks, and seeing the sprawling township ghettos that I learned how much of a difference there is from knowing and understanding.
We are given this amazing gift of a brain, which performs billions of thoughts per second beyond what any computer is capable of right now, and we make a choice somewhere in there not to use it. I fear that the next generations growing up have no idea what they are doing, but will still have all the confidence of someone who does. I sound like an old man!
Part of the process of being great at anything is making mistakes. It is human to err, and one of the things I really have come to value is fucking up royally. Its humbling. We are not the center of the universe and we are not destined to succeed at the challenges in our life. Some would even argue that failing over and over again is what our existence is all about.
Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus comes to mind; a Greek story featuring a man forced to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity just to see it roll back down to the start and have to start over again, philosophised by Camus. Camus described the plight of humanity similar to Sisyphus’s punishment in its repetitious absurdity. We try over and over again to do things right without any guarantee that the world will go the way we want, and through that process of continued struggle and failure we build value and character in our own life and the lives of those we build relationships with.
The importance of making mistakes reflects in the strength and individuality of character it generates in us. What choices do we make? How do we live with them? What are the consequences for ourselves? These kinds of things can only be formed through real experiences and hardships.
The digital world, created by man, doesn’t work like that. On Facebook the effort to make friends is simple and seamless. We can visit the far reaches of an unknown country in a few clicks. If you want to escape your day job that you hate you can transport yourself to the world of Orcs or outer space or play in multiple virtual worlds. The universe is at our fingertips, and it’s not difficult to join because companies and advertisers know the more easily accessible this digital world is the more we will want to be a part of it.
Our world is being replaced, but so are we. Human beings are quickly being discarded in favor of machines that can do what we do much faster. As the cost to create specialized goods and services goes down businesses keep looking for cheaper methods to build them. Products that were made by skilled craftsmen years ago can be streamlined today. More and more intimate creations are being processed for mass production.
I enjoy making artwork that is digitally created and the majority of my freelance jobs depend on my ability to keep up with the latest media. That being said the digital world we have created is still a tool for our way of life, not a way of life in and of itself. Yet.
In the coming years this digital realm, as it spreads and grows exponentially, will encompass so many more aspects of our natural world until it is so integrated it becomes our world. I look at my comics and artwork as a swan song; a brief moment of human expression, creation, experimentation, and celebration before we turn into something else entirely. Our faults and our ability to fail is what separates us from the next step of our evolution. Humans aren’t dying, we are just changing into something faster and more “perfect” then what we were before; and the change is happening so fast and so radically it will be over before we know it.
I am all for embracing the changes we are about to go through and become; but we must remember and celebrate where we have come from. Even the most advanced computers today cannot simulate love, humor, or hatred. We are still complex social creatures with vast depths of emotional understanding and personal intricacies. We can’t forget that as we go sprinting towards the brighter future where those qualities may be forgotten, replaced, or simulated.