Not too long ago, for those above a certain age, the world has changed drastically. Once upon a time, people did not need cell phones; there were public pay phones everywhere. There were ringer washing machines, heavy black dial phones, and more. There was a time, believe it or not, when hand-held calculators had not yet made it to the marketplace; when televisions utilized black and white screens; when alley-mechanics had no trouble fixing automobiles because they were not computerized; when Bluetooth devices did not exist; when Wi-Fi was an unknown; when written work was done on clunky typewriters; when the idea of 3D printers was part of a fantasy world; when animation was done drawing by drawing, and when wars were fought without remote-controlled drones.
Today, there is an unprecedented onslaught of technology that promises to change the world in dramatic ways. The Internet has caused the world to shrink in such a manner that the 6 degrees of separation are becoming more like 3 or 4 degrees. So many things have become computerized that whole industries are threatened with demise. Automobiles are being built by robots and some of them are self-driving; new forms of lighting are now utilized; cell phones are ubiquitous, televisions have become gigantic, and computers have become king of the world!
Where does this all leave humankind? Computers are replacing the need for many jobs; people are glued to Facebook, Instagram; YouTube, and so much more; the result is carving new niches in the arena of social interaction. Authors, who were at one time subjected to the whims of mainstream publishing behemoths can now turn to online self-publishing entities and are able to by-pass the literary gatekeepers that formerly only allowed a precious few through its gates. New audio and visual technology has made moviemaking and movie-sharing available to just about everyone.
As with everything, there are “good” and “bad” aspects to this technological surge. Regarding the “bad aspects,” identity theft is now commonplace and effortless for those who understand the esoteric tenets of computer hacking. Spying is easy. People will have to become very technologically savvy if they expect to gain employment and to keep it. On the “good” side, surgical technology will save many lives, and our lives will be made easier in many ways. The drudging toil that was necessary in day-to-day living in the 19th and 20th centuries is giving way to a society dominated by brainpower as opposed to brawn. Ultimately, increased technology can be seen as both a blessing and a curse.
One of the best benefits of the “technologicalization” of society, however, can be seen from the standpoint of the world’s Black community. Technology has a way of leveling the playing field; judgements will be made on productivity and efficiency and not so much on skin color when it comes to on-line business. It is easy to be racially neutral as people hide behind avatars and logos. Furthermore, there is a greater reach afforded by online marketing strategies that can benefit people without the big bucks. (At least this is true at the current time. Net Neutrality changes may threaten access if people do not rise to the occasion and oppose the negative changes).
The technological revolution has the great potential to bring people together, contrary to the popular opinion held by many. (It can also be concerning when looking at the “transhumanist” movement wherein man and machines merge). Those who want to share ideas across the globe can now do so. Certainly, the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, would not be as well-known as it currently is if it were not for social media. We are in a golden age wherein technological tools are available to those who want to take advantage of them. In this regard, if progress is to be made, people will have to “roll with the proverbial punches,” i.e., become and remain technologically flexible in order to keep from being left behind. In this regard, Black people need to become and remain informed about the evolution of technology. It can be a great friend or a formidable foe, depending upon how it is used. A Luta Continua.