Tag: We are living in the World’s Greatest Reformation

We are living in the World’s Greatest Reformation, or Western Society on “Tilt”

We are living in the World’s Greatest Reformation, or Western Society on “Tilt”

Consider the following metaphor. This fanciful, provocative,  but fairly accurate illustration of Western Society should stimulate you to ponder what is taking place in your life, your various communities (can we tribes?), and society.

A mere fifty years ago, I bought the film for my modest modern single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera. Depending upon my financial abilities, these were rolls of 12, 24, or 36 exposures. When rolls were completed, they were mailed to Kodak for processing in special envelopes. I anxiously waited for two or three weeks for my pictures to return. Sometimes three or four (okay, maybe six) of the returned pictures were out of focus, or poorly composed. Nevertheless, I owned the package.

Today, with my multi-functioning phone I can instantaneously take a hundred pictures and within a few anxious milliseconds view them. Yes, we all get anxious and excited when we open the picture icon on our phones. Those out-of-focus, or poorly composed are instantly deleted. We reject what we do not like. We do not need to acknowledge or learn from our mistakes. Instead, we are too busy congratulating ourselves on impressive shots. In a phrase, we turned the world from one model to one that represents an incredible opposite. Let us explore this paradigm shift, which offers a grand illustration of what is taking place in the greatest reformation in history.

As a substitute for patience, we are hooked on instant gratification. Today, we do not look or evaluate the inexpensive bad shots. We only want to examine our masterpieces. We no longer look at our poor shots to learn from where we went wrong, and it costs us money, as with the film pictures. Instead, we simply focus on the perfection of digital shots that cost us nothing more than a millisecond to take and a millisecond if unloved, to delete. Furthermore, in the past expensive SLR cameras were a treasured tool that lasted for many years. Today, while expensive, we often trade in one smartphone for another every few years. Why so? It is because it feeds our self-gratification of having the latest and best. I ask are these not fair examples of our life paradigm shifting society.

Today, the camera-phone, which is smart, may even auto-fix or correct many pictures unbeknownst to us! The out-of-focus shots have pixels that fill in spaces and make our pictures right. Sometimes as we aim to take a picture, the camera-phone-Swiss army knife machine informs us not to take that shot! We may read on the screen “blurred.”Additionally, with various “apps” (applications for the unenlightened), we have clean clear images. Speaking of cleaning up, if so desiring, one can even clean Uncle Eddie and Aunt Bertha out of pictures as if they were never there. In other words, the small hand-held device effortlessly makes us look like very accomplished photographers. However, instead of acknowledging the assistance of technology, we willing believed it was our skills. Naturally, we accept all the credit for these splendid shots. This is a shift from honest self-evaluation to self-boasting – what a reversal.

Another great reversal is that whereas we use to take largely planned shots of special life events, because of limited film exposures, we now take countless pictures, of absolutely everything. I like looking on social media at every restaurant meal, or a home-cooked meal, or the cat playing the piano. This is sarcasm.

Years ago, we planned what shots to take because of the cost involved. Today there is no cost. This is another shift. Also, consider the reality that from its inception we watched television at the timeline of the networks. If Star Trek was on Thursday at 8 PM (it was) then that was the time we watched or missed an episode. Commercial breaks proved challenging if one wanted a snack, pour a drink, or attend the bathroom. The cry of the youth echoing around homes was, “It’s on” was a common reality. Today’s shows are on our timeline. We stream what we want when we want. If we want to binge-watch specific television shows we no longer have to wait a week or more for the next episode (or the summer reruns). Likewise, if interrupted, we merely hit pause and resume watching at our convenience. Is this not a reversal or real paradigm changer?  From the control of a few television networks to individuals controlling many networks, streaming services is a real reversal or paradigm shift in society.

In the past, we knew who took photos because they were the ones missing in the family picture. Today, we know the photographer because they are often the closest person in the picture. Besides, we often see an extended arm indicating that they are holding the camera-phone. Indeed whereas we use to aim the camera outward, we now turn it inward. This is a big reversal in picture taking and in how we place ourselves in society. Unlike in the past, we now take pictures, hundreds of pictures of ourselves. What an incredible paradigm shift – we shifted from seeing the world to the expectation and desire for the world to see us (or our latest meal)!

In previous days, we would take our precious printed pictures around to show our relatives and friends. If so inclined, and if able, we might even splurge and order “doubles” to provide others with a copy of those precious reminiscences. Today, we simply post our pictures (and especially those that center on us) to various social media platforms and anxiously wait for a thousand people to “like” them. What a shift. We moved from, “Look at you and the family in those wedding pictures,” to “Look at me and others as we eat Monday’s supper.” Is this not another change?

This thoughtful and reflective illustration of the practice and limitations surrounding the printed film to today’s seemingly unlimited digital uses is a perfect metaphor of the tectonic postmodern shift smothering society as traveled from the WE to the ME.

Perhaps you might read this illustration again to enhance or add to your understanding of the truly monumental significance of the postmodern world – where fake news is true – if we chose to believe it. Today confrontation and loud rudeness overwhelm conversations and decorum. Where are our filters? To return to the camera image, we have reverted or returned to a single-lens camera that has limited options. While the camera and technology posed limits in the past, we now impose our limits and restrictive views.

The move from the “WE to the ME” is self-evident in our society. In recent decades, fraternal organizations, service clubs, religious institutions, and volunteerism dived in terms of membership and activities. If one checked the membership in these institutions, the result would find that they are largely comprised of long-term members – in other words, older people! In the past, people using SLR cameras were patient. They carefully planned, and hoped, that they might get the perfect shot. Today, with digital cameras and smartphones one can take hundreds of shots within seconds and then delete them all but one or two. Instead of working towards a great shot, or picture, we seem to obtain that perfect picture by eliminating countless others. As a result, do we have the same appreciation as earlier generations? This is a profound question. Instead of building towards a goal, through quality, as in the past, we now reach our goal by having quantity! From this quantity, we delete away the countless pictures deemed unworthy. Do we have the same depth of satisfaction, or are we always striving to be pleased? This is another question to ponder in our rapidly changing world. Consider the idea that in many ways we shifted from addition to subtraction.  While not a perfect image, this may stimulate thinking about the great reformation that covers your life and our society.