Just the other day I was next to someone annoyed at the fact the service on their mobile phone was slow. (And it was within good reason as well, seeing as it’s a service being paid for) After contemplating the stranger’s plight I went on a voyage, peeling back layer after layer of thought until the stark realization confronted me.
Now please try to stay with me here, I am not by any means anti-establishment or averse to technology, but sometimes it’s easy to forget just how many modern conveniences we have the privilege of disparaging when they fail to function momentarily.
Around 2004 GSM cellular phones were introduced to Barbados and I remember being told I didn’t have to get a color screen because they were a bit pricey (Imagine telling that story to a fifteen year old and watching the horror on their face) Now, in just twelve years the bargain phones you wouldn’t be proud to whip out whilst at dinner with friends can now check your mail, play music and take pictures…with a color display. Phones are so versatile nowadays that people have been known to shoot entire films using their phone. There are even accessories made to enable and enhance the experience of filming on a cell phone. Now this is not by any means an ode to the wonder of mobile devices but more so a jolt to remind you that we have come a long way and somewhere inside us should always lie at least a modicum of gratefulness.
Think of it! As film and video producers and content creators, technology and gadgets make it so much more easier of us to get our ideas and concepts out of our heads and in front of a viewer. But this technology that we heavily depend on now did not appear out of thin air. It took an initial thought and a lot of determination and it also took persons to carry on the vision and think beyond what they saw. Louis Le Prince might have never imagine that his effort in creating a film camera to produce moving image would have been developed so far as to become an integral part of a million dollar industry. Then again maybe he did, we can’t be sure of that. But what we can be sure of is that others stepped up to the plate to see his vision and beyond and now we’re making movies with our phones.
So the next time you leave the house, play a little game with yourself. Look at everything around you and tell yourself it took the imagination, ingenuity, labor and craftsmanship of many before you to establish what you daily breeze pass obliviously. We are all guilty of it but just do it for fun next time. The roads you travel were paved by people, the buildings all around you were designed and erected by people, the vehicles you commute in were assembled in factories through mechanization yes, but all from the imagination of man. A good friend of mine said the concept of airline travel is mesmerizing if you look at it on a basic level. You are essentially sitting in a chair in the sky enclosed within a metal tube. A man imagined that. Really take a minute and absorb that. Think of how revolutionary a thought that was.
An even more profound thought is the fact that in many cases the innovators, creators, artisans and laborers involved in the provision of the conveniences we criticize may not have lived to see their works be finalized. Many workers died working on the railways trains flow freely on today and many have also died whilst in the process of completing skyscrapers that currently adorn the skylines of metropolitan areas around the globe. I don’t think expounding on this example is necessary.
In summation, times have changed and technology is expected to be reliable more so than incite wonder within us. We expect our cars will start, our phones will send messages and our light switches will illuminate our houses when flicked. Just remember that everything around us outside of nature is manmade and prone to error. A comedian once said that anytime your instant messages are taking longer than expected, just take it easy and remember they are traveling to outer space first.
Obviously it is impossible to go through life without griping and moaning about the inconveniences that plague us daily but I implore all of you and myself every once in a while to play the game I mentioned earlier and just say a quiet thank you to all our predecessors for their generosity, tenacity, imagination and hard work.
If that doesn’t work, take the advice Kevin Costner gave to his fellow peers upon receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards and at least act grateful.
(Written by Dwayne Gibbs)13 Degrees North, Attitude, Caribbean, Life