Tag Archive: modernity


I don’t know why I bother reading the news. It’s like a smack in the face every time. But what is one to do? Remain ignorant? Pretend that we’re not self destructing? I wonder if the earliest humans thought we’d come to this. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of good people out there, you just have to look carefully and not be blindsided by the idiotic reasons some people use to destroy – everything around them.

I had a dream, (no I’m not going to quote Martin Luther King’s speech), I really  had a dream to travel the world and indulge my curiosity. I remember I got my first set of social and geographical encyclopedias. It wasn’t a complete set, there were certain letters missing and they were fifty years outdated, but hey, since my parents couldn’t afford  brand new books for school, I wasn’t picky. These weren’t your usual encyclopedias though, they were books about countries; Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and they were in alphabetical order (minus the odd few). I pored over these books, soaking up each word in each description, turning the black and white images into full colour in my mind as I travelled through the pages to places I’d never been before. I couldn’t be there….yet, but I told myself some day I would.

Now, the thought of stepping onto foreign soil fills me with dread. I still love travelling but it’s gone from adventure to added security. That dream is dying as countries I’d dreamed of visiting no longer hold that mystery and romance, they no longer entice with the unknown and the untried, instead the unknown in the 21st century can give you an ulcer between journeys.

What have we walked into? Is this the price we pay for being an advanced species? Has the world gotten so small that we can no longer tolerate one another or have our egos just gotten too big for common sense to have any effect on us? Will our futures end in fire before it even begins?

Perhaps someone out there knows the answer. I certainly don’t.

 

 

I remember the first time I got my computer and was finally connected to the internet. It was my last semester of my final year at university. I spent two and a half years of my university life pounding out course essays, tutorials and seminar materials on a typewriter before I joined the rest of the progressive world on cyber-space.

I had my computer built according to my specifications – or rather what I was advised they should be as I was still getting ROM and RAM mixed up to the amusement of the IT guys who were building the computer for me. I wanted an excellent surround sound system for movies. Take note – The Lord of the Rings cannot be watched without the right system to hear the breath of every Orc, the clash of swords, the screams of the dying, the musicality of Elvish, the demoniac nuances of Black Speech and the heart lifting music scored by Howard Shore for Rivendell, Hobbiton and Dwarrowdelf. (You see how easy it is for me to get sidetracked?)

The first day my computer was brought to me, there were so many boxes. I had no idea that there were going to be so many pieces to assemble before it would look complete. A desk was varnished and ready. With bright eyes and a brighter smile I followed the tech guys inside. One would think that I was welcoming a new baby into the family. I suppose it was like that – in a way. I always relished the new and unfamiliar.

They made short work of setting up and all the while I stood there, arms folded, my eyes following their every move. Then there it was – my very own computer which I still had to pay for in instalments. But it was mine.

The keys on the keyboard were soft and made very little noise when I typed on the Mavis Beacon program. My family and I hovered around it and cooed like proud parents. The tips of our fingers would gently brush over the printer, the monitor, the speakers and the keyboard. I still had to get internet – that would be a worry for the next day.

I couldn’t sleep that night. The computer was still on and the bright display on the monitor glowed in that dark – a herald into this new universe. Mesmerised by the aquarium screen saver, I marvelled at how far my family and I had come. It was a small victory and we were far behind others, but it was our victory nevertheless.

Once I got the internet up and running, I sent my first email to the IT guys informing them that everything was right as rain and got a reply within an hour. I sent emails to myself and emails to my sisters and my mother even though we were all living in the same house. A new world opened up and my old world disappeared forever.

I’ve found that it is so much easier to say something to someone when you don’t have to look at them and say it. That’s what was happening. That room in which the computer sat became our world. It was a source of information easily accessible from all across the globe. I was more efficient in my studies and so were my sisters. It was the source of contention amongst us and a place of escape. It often brought us together and often tore us apart.

Over time, like everything else that was once new, the computer and the whole notion of being linked to a world outside of our own experience lost its lustre and became commonplace. However, I don’t think I can go for very long without going online. It’s almost like a necessity of life. I wonder how did I manage for twenty of my early cognitive years without it – back then when life was simpler? Could I go back? I don’t believe so. There isn’t enough room to turn around and go back as the world has become so much smaller. It’s either that – or I’ve changed too much.

David Gaughran

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