If the first element in our redefinition is that we are technological beings, then the next characteristic is that we have become virtual. We live not where we are physically, but on the internet.
The other day I received a question from Facebook, “Do you know Eshani Mongia?” “Well, yes!” I wanted to retort, “I should. My daughter lives in the same home as me!”
I gave it some good thought and decided I should not publish my ignominy. Facebook’s faceless technology was telling me that I would no longer have friends and family if I was not on it. Our community and the games we play are now on the web and not our unknown, unnamable neighbors. Our communities too are virtual.
We do not need to think, the web thinks for us. It has all the answers, all that could possibly be thought of is already on the internet. The music we could have composed, the songs we could have sung, the paintings, the poetry all is done by someone or the other. Before you think of it, it is on Youtube. Gone are the days of lonely geniuses polishing their skills and occasionally dying undiscovered. Today, they are discovered before they become geniuses and most likely it is a 12-year old. For here is another key quality of contemporary human beings:
Since 99% of us have become such passive receivers of anything and everything from the internet, we are reactors, not creators. Except the 1% prodigies so driven that they have to create by the time they are 12, burning out by 17 and getting totally lost by 21.
The individual’s culture is of reception, not of creation; not of time-tested inheritance; but of imitation. Our cultural concerns of the day are now doodled on Google. It is easy to notice Google’s topics: historical figures who are relevant today, scientists, rebels, thinkers—not saints, religious holidays or such traditional stuff.
All indications say that Culture has lost its root in religion, and by implication in the past. If Christmas is doodled, it is for having shifted to the supra-religious sphere where it merges with the global party that celebrates the coming of the new year.
In this new global culture we are developing, we are loosing not only a lot of deadwood—which is always a good thing—but also the rich nuances of localized culture.
The paradox of our virtual lives is that we are never more lonely nor more connected.