persuit of SPEED
To survive in the Wild West one had to be the fastest draw on the land. Of course, only one person could be the fastest so everyone else had to go down in an undignified heap of bullet holes. Survival depended on speed. Even in much earlier times when man walked with big clumsy steps and did not even have a loincloth, speed was of the essence. Wild cats, dinosaurs and irate cavewoman were incentive enough for a cave-husband to run fast. Everything depended on hustle and bustle. Slowing down is the same as ceasing to exist.
Of course, speed is not just about running for dear life. It has permeated into more or less everything you do every single day. Take for example the cave dweller in the first paragraph who we left running away from his angry wife. Some rock or apple must have fallen on her head at some point of the pursuit and an idea was born. With the flame of brilliance flickering over her prehistoric hairdo she chipped away at a stone and created the wheel. She then probably rolled it down the hill and crushed the caveman. Later during the funeral she probably thought of adding the wheel to the base of her suitcases. It would become easier to drag the huge collection of furs she had through the airport. Other people added wheels to their furniture so they could rearrange the décor without too much hassle. Still others added it to their shoes and the roller disco was born. The wheel became an object that made life more convenient. Adding it to everyday immovable objects allowed you to speed up your chore. You could do much more much faster. And this seems to be the maxim of life.
Doing things faster means you have more time to do more. The wheel was not the only thing that rolled people towards this direction. As technology advanced people wanted to do more as they had a larger option to choose from. Okay, so not everyone wants to do more but they sure want to have the option. Nowadays everything is multi functioning. You get a printer that can make calls, fax, copy, resize and heaven forbid, print as well. You get single kitchen units that can dice, cut, grind, mash, mush and crush.
One of the most
worked on devices is the telephone. It can send and receive your e-mails
and entertain with games while waiting for the date to show up. The
phones can even make a musician out of you by allowing you to practice
your skills at ring tone composition. And finally, after all this, if
you want you can even call other people.
Everyone wants everything RIGHT NOW! Actions need to happen in a snap. Internet allows you to talk to people without even stepping out of your home. Sure, you never see the person but at lest things are happening in a flash. No one writes anymore using old-fashioned paper because e-mailing is faster. Cell phones offer SMS messaging so you can send messages in stunted words. Communicating in complete words is not necessary because it takes too long. Cassettes and CD players do not just forward, they fast forward. And isn't it annoying to get on an elevator that does not have a button to close the doors? You have to wait the entire 3-5 seconds.
Our lives are now governed by this single-minded attitude towards speed and it is not just about saving time. Soon after the cavewoman created the wheel some wise guy named Watt created the engine. Added together and the car was born. People traveled faster than they could have imagined. It gave them more time to do more when they reached their destination. Swimmers shave their body to create a more aerodynamic structure. It saves them milliseconds. For a few thousand dollars you can fly a Russian Mig in Russia. Its one of the fastest planes a civilian will ever get on. Speed is the new high and I am not talking about the tablet.
People need to make their day to day activities more convenient. Their lives need to be more meaningful with more to do. Speed is the answer here and it is an addiction. Your whole life becomes a blur with the promising lure of convenience. Doing so much so quickly leaves you so much time to do even more. But in the end you still end up needing more time. We sleep and relax less than we used to 50 years ago. People communicate with more people but somehow it is less meaningful. 100 people on your MSN list cannot all be given proper attention. Family get less time because they are all too busy watching so many shows on so many channels. Even love has lost its Shakespearean beauty of patience. Arguments require discarding the relationship altogether because fixing problems take too long. Get a new mate.
In this new age technology rules. It's here to make our world a better place. We whiz off to work in fast cars and make hundreds of short calls on our super functioning phones. A meal is readymade and eaten while we flip through the 100 plus cable channels. We sift through the mails but the internet is too slow. It takes almost 5 seconds for the pages to download. Life whizzes past while everyone is engrossed in their go faster gadgets. Speed thrills but is this what we really want?
| Issues | The Daily Star Home|
© 2003 The Daily Star