In ancient times, a man would get on a horse if there was an important information to be delivered quickly. Horses were kept and cared for, for times just as these. Maybe the rider was sleeping in his bed. He was awakened for the express purpose of having to get the horse ready and deliver the news. Now just imagine, how much difference it would make to the rider whether the news was good or it was bad! Both kinds of information could have the urgent need to be delivered, but you would surely agree, the rider would be keener and feel encouraged to deliver the good news. He would speed away with gladness. He would be anxious, stressed, or even fearful to deliver a bad news, though he may still be keen to deliver it. What kind of information are we keen to deliver? What motivates us? For the fact is, we all have “digital horses” as mobile phones connected to the Internet. We, who ride them, can choose our missions and motivations.
Speed of communication – a uniqueness of our times
We can literally communicate at the speed of impulse today. The speed of thought, though, cannot be matched. A thought can travel to the end of the universe, and then down to the ocean floor, and be back at the butterfly which just landed on the flower petals, all within moments. The speed of an impulse, on the other hand, causes fingertips to touch a mobile screen and at that moment the thought fires into the cyberspace. Quite a miracle, if we think!
With so much speed at our disposal, a sense of soberness and responsibility should rightly accompany enthusiasm. There is so much power in the hands of ordinary people, but there hasn’t been an accompanying emphasis on education. An education that specifically trains individuals in the responsible use of the modern means of communication is still missing. In this regard, the older generations are better placed. They have experienced the time of transition, seeing the world before and after the Internet. So, the memory of a slower pace is still there as a reference to compare with what we have now.
Fast communication and society
It is unlikely that every human thought we have is worthy of being shared socially. It might be, the thought is only relevant to and beneficial for our immediate circle. Even then, it may not be an idea that needs to shared immediately. If the impulse is resisted, one might later realize that the thought can be kept waiting for an even better opportunity. Isn’t it true, that we all have many such ideas?
Information is capable of producing alarm in a society. There can be information of such power, it can cause great disturbance. It might only turn out to be a rumor. It might be gossip. It might be quite frivolous. Then again, once the information has escaped into the realm of social conversation and judgment, it could turn explosive. These things happen on a daily basis.
Members of society have gradually been shifted toward a more emotion-based outlook toward information, as the speed of communication has exceeded all human scientific achievement in history.
The formation and preservation of society is a phenomenon worth understanding. Once a society is formed, it tries to resist further changes that will disunify it. Communication can keep societies together, but it can also break it apart. In fact, one can judge the unity of a society simply based on the unified or disunified voices coming from its members. While unity is desirable, so is individual freedom. Neither can be idolized, however. Social unity makes possible great accomplishments. At the same time, individual freedom is a right and key to having an enjoyable life. In all this, the speed of communication enabled by technology is a critical factor to determine the present existence and future prospects of any society.
Our “digital horses” are always ready, as long as the battery is charged and there is Internet connectivity. What is missing is, the control on impulse. Once we individually determine to resist the impulse to share every thought, evaluate which ones to share, and consider the outcome, we can use the speed of modern communication for social advantage. Don’t you think so? Please share your thoughts.