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Thousands of years ago, Man created (discovered?) gunpowder. Sixty years ago, he discovered the power of the atom. Twenty-five years ago, computers were primarily tools of universities, large corporations and government agencies. Now a Personal Computer is commonplace in homes; suburban kids have computers with capabilities 100 fold of their corporate ancestors. The Internet was in a similar state not 10 years ago. It has grown so fast that now the original framework is bursting at the seams, no longer able to handle the needs of the burgeoning “Internet Community”. Technology and the world around us is moving at a breakneck speed, and it’s getting faster every second. These are examples of a theory known as Time Compression.
Time compression is a simple theory, and it is one that I am in love with, as it effects us all on a day-to-day basis. Think of time as a physical presence that is constantly moving. As a physical thing, it has mass, weight, volume, etc. The longer it’s been moving, the more momentum it gains, the faster it goes. Be it technology, moral philosophies or social situations, we are affected by time compression in all facets of our lives.
As we speed through our post-modern lifestyles, the increasing speed is becoming more apparent. Every day of our lives, something is being created, improved upon and appraised as no longer being relevant, and scrapped for something newer, faster and better to replace it. Whether this is good or bad is not terribly relevant. Change is one of the few constants. Progress has been occurring before man had a word for it. It’s been moving along at an ever-increasing velocity before man was, by today’s evolutionary standards, classifiable as Man.
Even with this apparent truth, some try to grind their heels into the dirt, slow it down just a bit. Sometimes it works out. Thoreau. Sometimes it doesn’t. Unabomber. But regardless of the outcome, both suffer from the same symptom, a sort of desperate escapism. If you disregard all the nobler qualities that have been stacked upon Thoreau, he was a simple man living in a complex world, desperately afraid and unable to cop to his bewildering environment.
Please don’t misunderstand; I am not trying to condescend to the likes of Henry David Thoreau. I believe these are qualities we all have, myself included. But when it comes down to it, the ability to harness this wind and move along with it, using it to your own advantage is a much better expenditure of energy than grinding heels in the dirt.
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Civil disobedience, Ecological succession, Henry David Thoreau, Lecturers, Timespace compression, American literature, Culture, Literature
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