Essay written for an English class, though I share it with you guys.


Cycle of Adaptation

Or

The New Form of Evolution

Floccinaucinihilipilificatio n. If you read this, you might be inclined to find the definition of the word previously stated. How would you go about doing it? Would you pull out a dust-covered paperback of a dictionary or would you zip out your smartphone and google it? The fundamental difference between the technologies of book and phone is key.

That difference has sparked a sort of "crisis". We hear that technology has usurped our decision-making abilities or steered us towards a certain kind of bias as Douglas Rushkoff believes in his book "Program or Be Programmed". The real truth is, all of the controversy is meaningless, as we are much like frogs in the boiling pan, except someone has suddenly jumped the heat. The "crisis" we feel is technology moving too fast; we no longer have the grace period we once had to adapt; therefore we panic, but, we must remember, as reflected in our traditions such as faith and our social-ness, the medium may change but the underlying content never will.

Darwin used finches to illustrate his brand-new theory of evolution. He explained that finches adapted to the specific food source, be it berry or nut, and their beaks proved their adaptation. Our society is changing to adapt to that new need, and because it is such a radical change, we feel the "crisis". Now, we are adapting too, mainly as Douglas Rushkoff in "Program or Be Programmed", points out "But online, we are depending entirely on that tiny 7 percent of what we use in the real world…"(Rushkoff 92). The demand for our society now, is to adapt or die to the need to be able to convey our message in 140 characters or less and using only that 7 percent. The problem, of course, is that is really hard to understand someone just by that 7 percent, when historically we had the other 93 percent to help us. How do we adapt to that? By changing how we fundamentally communicate and perceive others, for instance, usage of an emoticon or caps to signal what once we used our face and voice for. We are adapting to our technology, and we cannot stop it, as Rushkoff and the Borg so eloquently put it "Resistance is futile" (Rushkoff 18). We are destined to evolve with our technology; we simply are trying to catch up to it.

By the time, we catch up to technology; we will be so entrenched as to have for the most part no return. The future is shown within Gary Shteyngart's "Super Sad True Love Story", after loss of connection to their electronic devices, in which the future generation had adapted to live by, breathe by, die by, the younger generation simply could not comprehend reality and committed suicide when faced with a future without their "apparati" (akin to iphones of sort). (Shteyngart 273). They even tried to face reality but what they saw was not enough, faces to them was not enough, they would have to devolve from their reliance on the 7 percent to be able to communicate without their technology. (Shteyngart 273). The difference between them, and us is that they have learned a different method of communication and rely on a different set of signals to communicate with each other.

Communication not only changes the person but society as well. Advertising or how to sell a product to someone is an example of a field in where technology has allowed it to evolve but its original goal has not. For instance, spiffy titles introduced by Malcolm Gladwell such as "retail anthropologists" and "urban geographers" (97), have been created to coincide with using technology to learn people's movement preference to try to get them to buy something. Or as mentioned by James Twitchell, the enormous use of technology to find information and categorize people, in order to target them better. (183). The process becomes, "turning our interactive lives into fodder for consumer research" (Rushkoff 59); all in the name of finding "true consumption patterns" (Gladwell 103) and to sell people something; in fact, their original goal.

As a person with a Greek Christian Orthodox upbringing and a scientist-at-heart, I can testify that faith, as a tradition is the most enduring example of content that will never change. No matter how far into the future. The person of worship may change, how they worship may change but the faith never will. Seeds of such traditions within families, maintain a kernel of cohesiveness, becoming the story that gets told time and time again regardless of what medium. Within Shteyngart's story, the characters go into a religious service, wherein Sally a main character's sister, is described: "…Sally, who was earnestly trying to follow along, her mouth contorting to the words….I could feel nothing but the mournful, hopeful waft of sound emerging from her mouth…" (Shteyngart 187) Except for the previous generation, no character from Shteyngart's book is confirmed religious with certainty, yet, Sally and many others are still hopeful. Even if some are not religious they cling to faith as an identity, as a part of them. They cling to faith. While everything changes, at least faith as a tradition is remaining consistent for them, as a vehicle of hope, even if it is declining in popularity, despite reason banging on the door of the faithful. Religion is example of a tradition, and much like our bedtime fairy tales, they will stay with us.

Today's and tomorrow's generations, will remain faithful to their social media, the need for social contact has been and will persist through the ages. This harkens back too much as Douglas Rushkoff's analogy of the social bazaar (108). In which the social value of gathering, endures through out the ages, even today. The bazaar and the Internet are the same need evolved. There will always be some way of communication, word of mouth or high speed technology beyond our very comprehension. In Shteyngart's novel, there is even a moment where Lenny, a main character, is introduced to "FAC"(Form a Community)(87) The same concept of gossiping is applied even if the technology seems fancier than simply telling the person how you feel about them. Even the social "banzai" or cycle of enthusiastically accepting new gadgets or going for the new "norm" remains the same, be it the business that evolves into a web business yet maintains the same product (Rushkoff 76) or the rejection of the gadgets or apparat in this case by the elite; when it was once prized and formed by part of our identity and to be stylish or "cool" (Shteyngart 321). Our social nature will stay with us, regardless of how we choose to communicate.

If there is one thing Douglas Rushkoff is completely correct about in every shape and form, is "The human response, if humanity is going to make this leap along with our networked machines, must be a wholesale organization of the way we operate…"(Rushkoff 17). He is right, it will require change, and there will be exclusive elites as with every technological jump, yet it will be business as usual for the human race. We are just stumbling about along our evolutionary path, learning new tools; the changes we feel are our attempts to adapt. We must still, recognize that our stories, our content, us, will remain the same, even if the standard of communication or the way we speak changes.

Works Cited

Gladwell, Malcolm. „The Science of Shopping." Solomon 97-103.

Rushkoff, D., and L. Purvis. Program or Be Programmed, Ten Commands For a Digital Age. Berkeley: Soft Skull Pr, 2010. Print.

Solomon, Jack, and Sonia Maasik, ed. Signs of Life in the USA. Seventh. Boston: , 2012. Print.

Twitchell, David. "What We Are To Advertisers." Solomon 182-186.