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Chiding elderly people about their struggles to keep up with change provides fodder for humor that’s sure to make younger people laugh. “Having trouble? Ask a kid.” The truth is, everyone needs help keeping up technologically. The younger people still in the mainstream are likely to have resources to explicate the swift river of evolution—friends, teachers, the Internet. For example, when I was on a college faculty, I could call in an IT specialist at any time, so I was on technological tiptoe, ready to leap forward after a few words of explanation. Today, online search engines serve that need often better than human beings. They transform themselves almost daily. But those of us who don’t know all that our fancy laptops can do, much less how to ask them to do it, may flounder trying to comprehend the terse directions we can access. Directions incorporate assumptions about what the user already understands. Say what? Do I want to create complicated videos? Have I merely set myself up as a sacrificial lamb to hackers? How can I discriminate between potential friends or customers and those looking for an easy mark? What do you mean I need another new password?
In Chapter Two “Exploration and Discovery” in his book STARRY MESSENGER: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization (p.29), Neil deGrasse Tyson elegantly describes the exponential change exploding around us—as well as what “exponential” actually means…for those of us without his academic insight. He notes that we congratulate ourselves that we live in special times that have wrought technological wonders our forebears couldn’t have imagined. But change isn’t new. “At no time on the exponential growth curve did anybody say, ‘Gee, we sure live in backward times,’ no matter how backward it may look to subsequent generations.” He concludes that all times are special. And fast.
Neil deGrasse Tyson uses the cool logic of the scientific method to compose his opinions. Decisions should be made based on evidence. You may not agree with all his conclusions. After all, life does tease us with certain bits of foggy evidence that may or may not indicate something more solid beneath. But his logic is impeccable. I offer his book as a great template for people to use to keep up. Not that his book will help anyone navigate social media, but it’s a starting place where people of any age can be comforted that if they’re paying attention, they should be dazzled by the rush of change. Brushing away the clouds of confusion can be simpler than we think…if we agree on where to find the best, most reliable evidence.
Great recommendation. Thank you.