Being without broadband for nearly 7 weeks and a telephone for a fortnight, together with my anti-virus becoming over sophisticated so that I can’t give it the answers it wants, and my Blog provider changing his system, have all given me time to reassess many things. One is whether we all need to be so sophisticated as others feel we should. My lack of sophistication, where I don’t understand jargon, and the questions that the computer asks me are merely the tip of the iceberg. I stopped being sophisticated in the early 90s, when I had retired for the second time, and I have never caught up since. So I question whether we, the simple denizens, need the level of sophistication that is thrust upon us, with or without our knowledge and consent. On the other hand, sophistication, particularly with respect to health, has also made it possible for more of us to receive an incredible progress in treatment. The sciences, and policing with the use of DNA, are all areas that show that sophistication and progress, if it is to the benefit of the individual, rather than that of the shareholder, is to the advantage of all. It is when the sophistication is introduced for its own sake coupled with greed, or is unregulated, then it can be detrimental.
Technocrats naturally invent, reinvent, modify, in effect changing our lives, not always through necessity but because it will provide a new, have-to-have product, for those who want to appear sophisticated, thus increasing profits. In some areas, such as entertainment, progress has resulted from sophisticated changes in equipment and taste, with I believe, in the majority of cases a drop in standards on the back of cheaper production. I have seen watches costing two month’s salary, weighing a ton, and telling you a dozen things you might need to know once-in-a-lifetime. The list is endless. Forgive me repeating myself when I say, some want to make a lot of money for themselves, while the man in the street, is unconsciously funding this, and is suffering the consequent results and pressures. The worst example was the computerisation of business transactions that enabled those in the dealing rooms of the finance houses, who, without a thought for the future bought and sold anything that would give a short-term profit, to enhance their own salaries and gain golden handshakes. I also condemn the politicians we trusted with the finances of the country and failed to monitor and moderate that excrescence, which was reported daily in newspapers, in this blog, and many others.
One of the causes of course, has been the rapid rise in the worldwide use of the Internet and the computer, that enables such speed of transaction, that deliberate thought, and the possibility of monitoring, is put on the backburner. The astronomical increase in the variety of abuses that have consequently been generated, from fraud, theft, murder in some cases, child pornography to terrorism, can all be laid squarely at the door of the information highway, and now the whole thing has got so out of hand that we are having to pay for armies of technicians to repair the government computers that are wrecking the lives of so many, and also the law trying to catch the miscreants. We oldies worry about the future for the sake of the young and the not so young, who have been told they have never had it so good, when my generation believes that, since 1935, while there are better washing machines, smarter cars, so much of the infrastructure and the way of life has suffered. Today stress is commonplace, dishonesty and aggression in all their forms at all levels, have grown like a cancer in our society. It is now endemic, and much of it as a result of so-called sophistication. The problem is we can’t turn back the clock, or will circumstances turn it back for us?
The total change in our way of life, in which the corner shop has been replaced by vast supermarket complexes deciding, from their own selfish standpoint, our choice of products, has reduced the number of small manufacturers and specialist dealers in different areas of the country, that provided products that generations in those areas bought as staples. National, if not international, companies have swallowed up these independent manufacturers. The result has been that choice has been reduced, that quality has been sacrificed to mass production, and as takeover after takeover takes place, so the quality of the products and the number available are reduced.
This current credit crunch is inevitably going to change our lives, something which has already begun, and we will find that as firm after firm goes out of business, and finances get tighter, the sophistication, which to some extent has been fostered by the throwaway society, may itself disappear.