Once upon a time, cars were built that were distinctive and unique. No-one ever mistook a 1956 Thunderbird or 1966 Mustang or a Datsun 280Z for any other kind of car. Even today, these cars remain recognizable - and valuable.
However, a great deal of cars are built today will not have the same lasting power. Most of them merge into one another, a flow of curves and body types to reduce drag, increase gas mileage, and go farther. And to a great extent, they all look almost exactly the same.
In other words, we have exchanged the unique for the utilitarian.
As I pondered this, I realized that in the age of intellectual achievement, this seems to be true more and more. Our houses or apartments look them same. Our appliances all look almost the same, with only features differentiating one from the other. Any computer looks like any other and smartphones compete only in how big their screen can be.
And more and more, what we produce is ephemeral. The appliances and cars with planned obsolescence. The computer programs and TV shows that are replaced in popularity on an almost annual basis. The things we buy, use, dispose of, and promptly forgot that we owned.
Maybe this is the natural progression of technology, that as we move through what we can do and achiever it becomes more and more amazing, yet more and more passing. We moved from stone and wood to metal and leather and steel and concrete and computers. At every step something more amazing, yet each thing seeming to pass more quickly into the ether. We view ruins that were built 2000 years ago; cities from the gold and silver rushes of 200 years ago weather away and vanish.
As the homogenization of the uniqueness of items continues to dwindle and the inevitable move to own and use less and less continues, we will find ourselves in an age where the original, the lasting, the hand made and hand built and distinctive will find more and more value - not just because it has aesthetic or historical value but because it remains distinctive and memorable in a world which no longer generates its memories in things it built but in something far less lasting - the feelings and memories of an individual, which will never outlive them. We are exchanging the record for our being in the physical world for a mental record which we can only record in things that, all too often, pass away in the blink of an eye.
I drive at or below the speed limit on a daily basis - so much so, The Ravishing Mrs. TB reminds me quite a bit to at least "go the speed limit". I at least try to get out of the far left lane, but generally - yes, I am that guy.
Why? Not really sure how it started - that I can recall now, I have never had a speeding ticket. I think it originated somewhere from my seeming irrational fear of always being pulled over - if I am going the speed limit, there is never any danger of that happening. I am perfectly happy to let others speed by me on their way to somewhere as I slowly make my way down the Interstate.
It occurred to me yesterday as I drove that this is what giving up current events and media has been like.
If (like me) you are driving at the speed limit, you inevitably find yourself passed by people going quickly (or much more quickly) on their way to somewhere else. They either whip right by or slowly edge past you, but in the end they leave you behind as they speed over the horizon.
Oddly enough however, I still end up arriving at the same destination they do, if only a little bit later.
That is what being without the media has been like. Yes, I eventually hear of the "goings on" out there in the real world (because of course people talk about it) but I end up waking up at the same time as everyone else. I can perhaps opine on the current event (I am trying not to during Lent, of course!) even as I grasp that I can no more influence or change most of them than I can the weather or the sunset.
The pace of my life - or at least my stress, I guess, has changed as well. I am no longer always in an almost hyper-induced sense of waiting for the next thing to occur (I wish I could make this true for work as well!). I just move forward into my day, knowing that somehow events and commentary are going on all around me and knowing that I will end the day like everyone else around me.
I have to admit this has turned out to be a rather delightful change of pace.
"Religion today is not transforming the people - it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level society - it is descending to society's own level and congratulating itself and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smiling accepting its surrender."