Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought.
– Albert Szent-Gyorgi
The most eclectic Amateur Radio site on the Internet
“Wireless held a special place in the American imagination precisely because it married idealism and adventure with science,” she writes.
Popular Science Monthly observed: “The nerves of the whole world are, so to speak, being bound together, so that a touch in one country is transmitted instantly to a far-distant one.” Implicit in this organic metaphor was the belief that a world so physically connected would become a spiritual whole with common interests and goals….
The rise of wireless also set off a popular movement to democratize media, as hundreds of thousands of “amateur operators” took to the airwaves. It was the original blogosphere. “On every night after dinner,” wrote Francis Collins in the 1912 book Wireless Man, “the entire country becomes a vast whispering gallery.”
Listen to Amateur Radio in real-time, now, this very moment, on-line here
Episode 17 of Last Man Standing (wikipedia) depicted the use of Amateur Radio. The ARRL gave the Amateur Radio community early notice that Amateur Radio would be depicted in a major prime time sitcom. Many amateur radio folks were looking forward to watching this episode.
The episode aired in March, 2013. For many hams, it was not what they expected. One could ask, what sort of image did the script writers project of Amateur Radio and what do seven million people now think of Amateur Radio? One could also ask, what is the power of the ARRL in influencing the public messaging and image of Amateur Radio? The ARRL spends some portion of its budget on PR. Did episode 17 of Last Man Standing enhance or detract from that messaging, “brand building”, and PR by the ARRL?
Impressions from the Amateur Radio community
You can look to the ARRL forums for some discussions. Three months after airing, there are only 4 comments on the official ARRL forum. Only three of those comments contained any real content and analysis.
Here they are: ( http://www.arrl.org/forum/topics/view/780)
“ABC Comedy Last Man Standing Episode 17″ It was disappointing in how Ham Radio was depicted. This looked more like “CB Radio” and advertising for the equipment and the illegal Linear Amplifier shown. The average TV fan would assume that anyone could use these expensive radios to chat without having to type to their friends! According to the show, some of the writers/producers are Ham Operators and they know the requirements to become licensed. Being a 40+ year ARRL Life member, 20 WPM Extra Class licensed Ham, makes me wonder about the shows story line and how far they are going with it. Lastly, while Ham Operators enjoy the hobby, they also volunteer their services in disasters and various community events. KB3SM: a proud Old Ham…
Our main page had a news story back on March 4th that announced the airing of this show. The spokesman of this show, who is an active Radio Amateur, warned us about the way Amateur radio was presented. From our news story, Mr. Amodeo says,:
“As a ham, I am very excited to be able to have an episode that presents our hobby in an upbeat and positive way,” Amodeo told the ARRL. “As a television producer, I am pleased to present a very funny episode for our more than 7 million viewers. This episode will feature more ham gear than seen in mainstream movies such as Frequency, Contact and Super 8 — all great films that had Amateur Radio in them. It’s worth noting that although hams will enjoy the episode, it was written with our 7 million non-ham viewers in mind. Please be prepared for some inconsistencies related to Amateur Radio, but enjoy the show nevertheless.”
I don’t watch this show, since I’m too busy to watch television, so I can’t comment on it. Wish we could come up with a show of our own, but we don’t have the resources.
As a retired geezer, I did watch the show. It was a 30-minute sitcom, what do you expect? Answer: not much when it comes to “important content” regarding amateur radio — or anything else.
I noticed the “illegal” use of the radio by an unlicensed and unsupervised person, of course. It was irresponsible to say the least for a ham to leave his rig “live” in a house full of teenagers.
But I marveled at how the writers could weave radio and international QSOs into the plot in a very quick and (to the uninformed) believable way. I bet there are a lot of young people who now have a different impression of ham radio as an alternative to mindless texting, Facebooking, etc. It was artfully done, I’d say.
Not that I’m likely to watch again. I’m the wrong demographic!
If we had a “show of our own”, I’m sure it would not get 7 million viewers.
73 Martin AA6E
ARRL Technical Advisor
ARRL Test Engineer
Storyline and writers depiction of Amateur Radio
We can look a little deeper into what was depicted in this episode.
Amateur Radio was a sub-plot in the episode titled “The Fight”. The daughter, Mandy was getting poor grades in high school. So, the parents decided that the reason for this was that she was spending too much time using her computer and smart phone. To remedy the situation the parents decide to take away Mandy’s computer and phone until she pulls up her grades.
Of course, Mandy recites the mantra of her generation when her parents take away her devices, “This is how people of my generation communicate and exchange ideas”. Without her devices, Mandy is having withdrawal symptoms.
Mandy wanders into the basement trying to find out where her parents hid her devices. On the shelf she comes across an old typewriter. She mistakes the typewriter for a laptop with a missing monitor.
Across the room is her fathers Amateur Radio station. It’s fired up and running. So, she walks over to it, sits down, picks up the microphone and stats talking.
All the comments above made by Hams is dead on. What she did was illegal – you need a license to use a ham radio or be “third party traffic” with a licensed amateur radio operation present at the radio. Leaving a ham radio on and unattended like that was irresponsible. And finally, no one just walks up to a radio with a linear amplifier and just starts talking without doing some technical fiddling.
“Who Are You People?”
When Mandy starts talking on the Amateur Radio, other Hams come back to her. She asks, “Who are you people?” One ham responds that they are amateur radio operators and that people all over the world can hear what you say. In response, Mandy says, “Oh, it’s like twitter but more advanced since you don’t have to type”
Mandy tries to use what she knows about Twitter on Ham Radio. So, after talking, she “hash tags” her last sentence and gives permission to “Re-Ham” (Re-Tweet) what she just said. The ham folks reply with “LOL Mandy. Did I get that right?
The writers have set up the dialog to get a laugh out of the generation gap between Mandy (a millennial) and the amateur radio operators (Baby Boomer generation and older). Both generations try to talk to each other across the generation gap by trying to use idioms and phrases they think the other generation would understand. Mandy tries to adapt her generations terms and concepts (hash tags, re/tweet) to the language of hams (“Re/Ham that’).
The personal stories of World War II
Mandy is trying to do a paper for school on World War II. A couple of Ham’s respond.
Mandy tells the hams she is working on a paper for school on World War II. She gets two responses. The first ham (Walter) says he was on Omaha beach (D-day invasion). Mandy misunderstands this as Walter trying to tell her about his vacation. The second ham, a woman says, “I remember the war like it was yesterday. Better than yesterday since I’m in early stages of dementia.”
Again, the script writers play on the generation gap between Mandy and the amateur radio operators go get a laugh. Anyone of age who was present in World War II to have personal stories to tell is now in their late 70′s or 80′s. The writers throw in the comment by the Ham that she is suffering from “early dementia” for good measure – it got a laugh.
Mandy does her paper and her parents compliment her on the all the personal stories of World War II she has cited. She got those stories from the ham radio operators who she talked to. They were there in World War II.
This episode of Last Man Standing was seen by an estimated 7 million people. What impression did the mainstream masses come away with of Amateur Radio? That Amateur Radio is a legacy technology with a bunch of old people? Perhaps.
The 2009 ARRL has set this strategic goal
The ARRL will have a membership in 2020 with 60% of the members being under the age of 40.
I have not seen them report on this progress. But engaging young people is essential to their continued existence given that the average age for hams is late 50′s and into the early 60′s and 70′s. Young people are heavily under represented in the Amateur Radio community.
Is this a crazy idea?
While watching episode 17 of Last Man Standing on the internet I got treated to a whole bunch of commercials.
I saw ads for Google, Verizon, Internet Explorer, Land Rover, Nokia, and Bank of America.
I was treated to an interactive ad for Nokia smart phone video stabilization.
There were two ads for cat food and one ad for a carpet company (Luna).
What I did not see was an ad for the ARRL, or for any amateur radio equipment. Was there no company or organization associated with Amateur Radio for which it would make sense to squeeze a 15 second spot for Amateur Radio between the two cat food commercials or the carpet commercial for this episode where Amateur Radio played a role?
Of course, any ham will tell you, that it’s crazy to advertise amateur radio to the mainstream. The key is to ask them why. Further, given the episodes depiction of Amateur Radio an ad would be embarrassing to whatever company or organization placed it.
The lasting impression to 7 million people
Those 7 million people who watched the episode of Last Man Standing now know the term “Amateur Radio”. They saw some nice (expensive) equipment. They got a few laughs at Amateur Radio’s expense built on the generation gap between Mandy and the Hams. Now they will go on with their life and forget about amateur radio or know it as some sort of quirky legacy technology ( in the same scene where they saw a typewriter) before the advent of always-on global communications available to nearly everyone on the planet.
For Amateur Radio to survive it’s about influence and impact. But I think that the portrayal of Amateur Radio on Last Man Standing to the mainstream masses has now relegated Amateur Radio only to a technical curiosity easily forgotten.
As a ham, I am very excited to be able to have an episode that presents our hobby in an upbeat and positive way,” Amodeo told the ARRL… It’s worth noting that although hams will enjoy the episode, it was written with our 7 million non-ham viewers in mind. Please be prepared for some inconsistencies related to Amateur Radio, but enjoy the show nevertheless.
How many chances does the ARRL get to reach 7 million non-hams in the Last Man Standing demographic with a 22 minute story at no cost to them? This high stakes portrayal of Amateur Radio to the mainstream also gives us some insight into the ARRL’s influence (influence to a team of creative sitcom script writers?) and ability to mange the public image of Amateur Radio.
The vandal carved ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.Hong Kong (CNN) –
Parents of a 15-year-old Chinese tourist have apologized after the teenager defaced a stone sculpture in an ancient Egyptian temple with graffiti.The act drew ire in both Egypt and China — generating a massive online backlash amongst China’s unforgiving netizens.The vandal carved ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.
This morning, I heard a few people talking about this story. Not so much about the facts of the incident, but what it means.
This event has a connection to a recent vblog on YouTube. I posted a link to the vblog “The Aspirational Snobbery of Youth” and made a few comments here.
Celebrity and notoriety without love of the work or career
I listened to the vblog a few times, this is what I get out of it.
It’s not that vblog author Delboy is complaining about the aspiration of youth (or anyone else , for that matter) as much as he is making the point that some people want to get it (money, status) without really working for it. Delboy cites money as what drives people to take the short cut to fame – not love of the work or career. For other people, it’s not so much money as it is status and notoriety. They want it… and they want to get it doing as little work as possible.
On the backs of others accomplishments
So, 15-year-old Ding Jinhao decided to write his name on the wall of the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple in Egypt. The Luxor Temple in Egypt is a major tourist attraction in Egypt. I had the good fortune of visiting that temple in the past.
So, the intent seems to be, that by placing his name on the Luxor temple those visiting the temple will see the name “Ding Jinhao”. No one would come to see Ding Jinhao. But they would come to see the Luxor Temple. And, the logic must be, by placing his name on the wall, Ding Jinhao will somehow get recognition / status / notoriety that would otherwise not be available to him. It’s status or recognition by proxy.
Someone else (a whole cadre of other people) did the work of conceptualizing, designing, architecting, funding, and building the Luxor Temple. Ding Jinhao did none of this. He took the easy route. Put your name on (or over, deface) the work of others.
So, back to Delboy’s vblog. As he says, some people want celebrity without paying their dues and doing the hard work. Some cooks want to be called “Chef” – without training and without apprenticeship. Some people want to have the celebrity of a singer – but they can’t sing. Some people imagine themselves as a train engineer driving a train – but really, all they are cut our for is to be a stoker.
People just are not satisfied with who they are. In itself, being not satisfied with the status quo of who you are (now) is called “ambition”. And that’s good – if you do the work to gain the competency and skills to deserve the notoriety of title or position. It’s not good if you get your notoriety by taking short cuts – like taking the title without the competency or track record of success. Or, simply by defacing the work of others – layering your name on the achievements of others or by hiding or destroying the work of your predecessors (see story of Amenhotep II below)
How it works in small organizations
You can see this same thing going on in small organizations. If there is a diminished focus on results then anyone can take on any job title. Notoriety and celebrity without the results. In some, “once great organizations”, if the stakeholders are not vigilant in who they allow to become “celebrities” in the organization without results then it’s equivalent to allowing the organization to be defaced.
So, if Ding Jinhao wanted celebrity and notoriety – he got it. In the organizational context, those that “run them into the ground” because they have the title and not the talent to deliver results, then they will get the same sort of notoriety and celebrity that Ding Jinhao has now. And history will certainly remember them.
Read about defacing the Temple of Isis in Philae here.
If your accomplishments are not that strong, destroy the work of those that came before you… (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut)
Amenhotep II, the son of Thutmose III, who became a co-regent toward the end of his father’s reign, is suspected by some as being the defacer during the end of the reign of a very old pharaoh. He would have had a motive because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong as to assure his elevation to pharaoh. He is documented, further, as having usurped many of Hatshepsut’s accomplishments during his own reign. His reign is marked with attempts to break the royal lineage as well, not recording the names of his queens and eliminating the powerful titles and official roles of royal women such as, God’s Wife of Amun.
It’s the humility with which you accept your lot in life that makes you a gentleman
For some people, for all their life, they were told that an ordinary life was for average people – and they certainly are not average.
With the easy availability of GoPRO cameras these days there a a few bikers doing, what I would call, high-speed video blogs. Basically, guys on their motorcycles with a GoPRO camera strapped to their helmet with a remote mike riding to work or pleasure riding doing a blog.
One such blogger is YouTube channel Delboy’s Garage. In addition to showing you all sorts of things related to motorcycles he does a few opinion blogs.
So, here’s an interesting blog in praise of ordinary people with ordinary jobs.
Enjoy the countryside in the UK as you listen to his opinions on the “Aspirational Snobbery of Youth.
Check out a related post
Yesterday I caught some of the Senate hearings on Apple avoiding paying taxes. The issue of taxes aside, something that Senator McCain said gives great insight into his personality and perhaps a generation.
Senator McCain to the Apple CEO, Tim Cook:
Sir, there’s only one thing I really wanted to ask you today. Why do I keep on having to update all the apps on my iPhone? Can’t you guys fix that already?
Can’t you fix it?
Once and for all…
So I don’t have to get these updates…
Tim Cook replied that McCain’s iPhone got updates because Apple is making things better all the time.
The Static, Finished Universe
John McCain, like many, thinks in terms of a “static universe”. Things should work in a certain way and then stay that way forever. Change is bad; I am satisfied what with I have; why change it?
Perhaps such an idea is generational. McCain is of the generation who have one career, work at one place their entire life, and defend the status quo at all costs no matter what. I meet these people all the time in just about every organization.
Pre-rational belief systems
Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right”
The idea is that your attitude has a direct effect on outcomes. If you think the World is static then it is; if you think it’s not then it’s not. These sorts of decisions are pre-rational. The outcome will be what your pre-conceived ideas make it. You make your own Reality.
Perhaps we have been influenced too much by the traditional Christian theological position of the perfection of God. The idea that God, in his/her perfection is “changeless”. This is pure metaphysics. Why should “changelessness” be perfection? In the 13th century St Thomas Aquinas brought Aristotle’s metaphysics into the Catholic tradition. That’s the long and short of it.
A different idea
If you saw the movie The Social Network about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook then perhaps you remember this scene in the movie. Someone asks Zuckerberg this question, “When will Facebook be finished?”
Zuckerberg replies, “Facebook is like fashion, it will never be finished.”
It’s matter of perspective – and it makes all the difference in the world.
Like fashion, nothing should be finished. No idea, no concept, no product, no innovation, no organization,, and even your career – should never be finished. There is no life when one is finished.
McCain is probably not alone. Fix this software and be done with it. To change something implies that it’s broken.
Fashion is not broken. Innovation is only broken when it stops changing.
Traditional Theology got a shock in the 20th century by Process Theology. That movement in theology in the 1950′s “outted” traditional theological debt to Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas in the notion that “changless” is some sort of perfection.
Shocking as it might seem, the Process Theologians held that “God’s future is open”. God is not static and not finished.
As the McCain and Cook short exchange demonstrates, just about every organization, every government, and every social context is a collision between those who want to stop the world and those who want to change the world. Exchanges like McCain-Cook demonstrate how people differentiate themselves in thier pre-rational belief systems about change and what it implies.
There are insights every day about how people think, if you know where to look. Hopefully, McCain and Cook learned something interesting about themselves and their view of the world in this exchange. And now you know it too.
I caught this recent posting by Seth Godin
Competence vs. possibility
As we get more experienced, we get better, more competent, more able to do our thing.
And it’s easy to fall in love with that competence, to appreciate it and protect it. The pitfall? We close ourselves off from possibility.
Possibility, innovation, art–these are endeavors that not only bring the whiff of failure, they also require us to do something we’re not proven to be good at. After all, if we were so good at it that the outcome was assured, there’d be no sense of possibility.
We often stop surprising ourselves (and the market) not because we’re no good anymore, but because we are good. So good that we avoid opportunities that bring possibility.
Anyone who has spent time in many of America’s largest corporations can observe the curse of competency.
The largest corporations are your biggest opportunity and your biggest liability.
The Competency of Cogs
The largest corporations take their toll on those who are obsessed with competency and, at the same time, are suffering from personal insecurity. Obsessed with competency and the actual achievement of competency – especially in a functional/operational area – closes one off to taking risks. Taking risks and learning something new is not for the insecure nor for the non-curious.
The largest corporations have a warm place for the super-competent, super-insecure, super-nonCurious. You become a nameless cog is a giant machine. You may be tossed aside without ceremony with the slightest organizations change or change in technology that operates the giant mechanism of the company.
Opportunity in exchange for non-competency
On the other hand, America’s largest corporations are the best asset for competent risk takers and the super-curious. This environment provides unlimited possibility – if you know how to work it.
America’s largest corporations are both poison and cure; limitations and opportunity; life and death for your career.
It is always interesting to listen to the “super-competent” brag with arrogance about greatness self-assured in their domain of knowledge. Yet, when you look at where they are in the giant corporation you might find that, after 20 or 30 years, they are still without any strategic or direction setting role in that organization. Essentially, a “senior” position no different from where they started out after graduating from high school or college.
In a sense, you need to embrace failure (or at least the possibility of it) in order to become competent. Competent people with high levels of insecurity can’t achieve this.
The irony is that to become a strategic decision maker in America’s largest corporations in the context of an ever uncertain future you must travel a road of nearly continuous incompetency and have the intellectual fortitude, resilience, adaptability, and appetite for failure that each new challenge presents.
So, the confident, super-competent, non risk takers, need not apply.
Everyone finds their place. And everyone knows who and what you are
Your choice in America’s largest corporations. Cog or executive?
Eventually, everyone finds their place in the organizational hierarchy of America’s largest corporations. Your position and final destination in the hierarchy says much about how you deal with risk, uncertainty, ambition, resilience… and oh yes, how much your particular competency has limited your career possibilities.
135 Years of Fun
On Monday April 1, 2013, the First Family will host the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year, more than 35,000 people from all 50 states will be joining us on the South Lawn for games, stories, and, of course, the traditional egg roll.
In addition to all the fun and games, the day’s activities — which will include sports courts and cooking demonstrations — will help educate families on smart ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise choices into their daily routines, which are key pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
Every year since 1878 the White House has held an Easter egg roll.
People don’t think too much about it. That is, they don’t think too deeply about it.
Of course the White House can’t associate a Christian significance to the Easter Holiday… separation of church and State and all that.
So, there will be no (Christian) crosses or talk about death and resurrection.
But, there will be eggs and perhaps an Easter Bunny or two.
No cross but eggs.
If we know that the cross, death, and resurrection is out the picture then why are eggs and bunnies in the picture?
Does anyone ask what the significance of eggs are? In a sense, the egg is as much religiously charged as is the cross.
Here are a several observations.
- Our holidays are being wrenched free of any historical context or significance – Christian, Pagan, or otherwise. Too dangerous. Easter means what Easter means in this moment – this year, today. What Easter will mean next year will wait until what is needed is discovered. Easter is a “movable” feast in time and meaning.
- People don’t ask what these holidays/rituals/celebrations mean in historical context. Should they know? Or, is ignorance bliss?
- People, seemingly, aren’t equipped to ask questions. It does not occur to them to ask questions. Good or bad? Short term or long-term? Locally or in the context of America’s global competitiveness? Perhaps thinking critically and framing the right questions is more valuable than having the correct answers to the wrong questions.
So, this year, “Easter” will be pressed into service of promoting Obama’s agenda of healthy eating and exercise. The menu will also include a side order of Yoga free from any fatty and unhealthy references to Hindu Philosophy.
If someone wants to manipulate a society, culture, or group the inability of the target to think deeply and ask questions is the manipulators best advantage.
It comes down to an issue of education and society. How educated do you want your society to be? Sometimes, the less the better.
How about adding “education’ to the list of White House Easter activities and including some sessions on the historical origins of Easter? Probably not a popular idea – with the White House. They would need to talk about fertility rites, goddesses, myths, and all that stuff. Oh, and the Christian significance as well. Part of that session would also have to include the derivative insight that every political generation over millennium has used such holidays to re/interpret according to their needs. Messy business to bring all this up on Easter.
No, its more fun to search for wooden eggs… just do it… don’t ask too many questions. Be Happy. And, “Lets Move!” this Easter.
For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? – Aristotle - Nicomachean Ethics – 384-322 BCE
One might wonder, after a period of 2,000+ years, has there been any (what is called) “progress”.
Surely we can distinguish between “progress” in the area of technology and progress in other areas such as culture and society.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) lived more than 2000 years ago . Surely, if Aristotle were transported from ancient Greece to the modern world he would find the progress in science and technology absolutely astounding. But, if he were to look at our social relationships 2000 years distant from his own time what would he discover? Would Aristotle say that, after two millennium, we have made any progress in human relationships?
Perhaps he would say we have taken several steps back from the “golden age” of Greek culture.
Aristotle on Friendship
Aristotle wrote about friendship in Nicomachean Ethics. He divided friendship into three categories.
Friendship of young people seems to aim at pleasure; for they live under the guidance of emotion, and pursue above all what is pleasant to themselves and what is immediately before them.
Those who pursue utility . . . sometimes . . . do not even find each other pleasant; therefore they do not need such companionship unless they are useful to each other; for they are pleasant to each other only in so far as they rouse in each other hopes of something good to come.
What’s in it for me?
According to Aristotle, Pleasure and Utility friendship is partly motivated by a “what’s in it for me” attititude. The friendship exists only insofar as there is some benefit – pleasure or utility – that can be derived from the relationship. When the benefit erodes, so does the friendship
Therefore those who love for the sake of utility love for the sake of what is good for themselves, and those who love for the sake of pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves, and not in so far as the other is the person loved but in so far as he is useful or pleasant.
And thus these friendships are only incidental; for it is not as being the man he is that the loved person is loved, but as providing some good or pleasure. Such friendships, then, are easily dissolved, if the parties do not remain like themselves; for if the one party is no longer pleasant or useful the other ceases to love him.
Perfect (or True) Friendship
Finally, Aristotle defines Perfect Friendship:
Perfect friendship is the friendship… [of those] …who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing. And each is good without qualification and to his friend, for the good are both good without qualification and useful to each other.
Here is how Philosophy Professor Dean A. Kowaalski sums it up:
So, for Aristotle, the highest form of friendship occurs between persons of equally good moral character (virtue), which is enhanced due to their interactions. Such friendships are admittedly rare; when they do obtain, it is because the friends spend a great deal of time together, developing a secure mutual trust. Their relationship is fostered by participating in joint ventures and engaging in activities that exercise their own virtues for the betterment of the other and the friendship. All of this is done primarily for the sake of the other person (and not for selfish purposes), even though their interests have grown so close together that it is difficult to separate them. Consequently, complete friendship results in a sort of second self, a true partner.
There may be a Myth of Progress. In some contexts, progress seems obvious perhaps because of the selection or limitation of what one considers. Surely, “progress” is an in-your-face fact when one looks only at technology and our understanding of how the world works – science in general and physics in particular.
But has there been any progress in social relationships? Or perhaps there been a degradation brought about by the progress in technology. Perhaps the more technology we have the greater distance we can put between ourselves and other people and still call them “friends”… to the point that they are no friends at all… merely markers or counts on a Facebook page or the number of Twitter followers.
Technology is “enabling”. Enabling to make True Friends as Aristotle would define it? Technology may simply enable those who have a “what’s in it for me” motive of finding merely pleasure or utility in others. “Friends for pleasure” is now easy to find on the Internet. Friends to scam and friends for transactional relationships are easy to find as well. Have your “friended” or “liked” Starbucks or other organization or business? Why are they your friends?
So, if Aristotle were to step into the 21′st century world of technology there would not be much he would understand. We have made fantastic progress. And, I think he would agree based on his writings of Universal Physics, Human Physics, Animal Physics, and Metaphysics of this time. But Politics and (Nicomachean) Ethics where the above quotes on friendship came from? Any progress here in two millennium?
What Aristotle wrote 2,000+ years ago about friendships being only for utility and only for pleasure and easily dissolved is as relevant for today as it was in ancient Greece.
It might be a revelation to you if you examine your friendships within Aristotle’s framework – friends of pleasure; friends of utility; and perfect friends.
How many perfect friendships do you really have? Has technology been a benefit or a liability? And have we made any progress in two millennium in answering Aristotle’s basic question, “how should men best live”?
Read about Dunbar’s number – If You’ve Got More Than 150 Facebook Friends, They’re No Friends at All
Alone Together. Why we expect more from technology and less from each other