Are we too privileged?

Right now, I’m sitting on a chair in a lounge at uni, typing on a Macbook. In addition to being able to word process, I can do literally thousands of other things on it, not least of all access the internet, which essentially connects me to the world. 12 years ago, I was amazed when my computer was able to play Tomb Raider II without pausing every three seconds.

In my pocket is an iPhone. It never occurs to me that the device in my pocket is able to let me personally speak with anyone else in the entire world. Not only that, but under the right circumstances, I can actually see them, even if they’re in Paris, Texas, or Machu Picchu. Sights that 60 years ago were spoken of as exotic and distant are now accessible from your fingertips.

It’s also a portable library of information, both old and new. In 2000, I spent 4 weeks clinging to the music request show on Channel [V] hoping they’d play the clip I’d phoned in 5 separate requests for. Now, I pull out my phone and look up that clip on YouTube.

It also lets me do other things – access my bank accounts, play a game of scrabble with someone in Dubai, use it as a flashlight, or store an electronic library of books on an application I downloaded for free. It also holds a fair majority of the music I own. I have 4000 songs, 6 TV Shows, and 3 full movies on my iPod alone, and I carry it all around with me on something only a bit bigger than a credit card. The first vinyl records didn’t play longer than 4 minutes.

Technology marches on, sometimes too quickly for my liking, but I still never cease to be amazed by the sheer amount of what can be done, especially with a smart phone. Flat tire? You can google how to fix one. Wanna make a cake? You can look up a recipe. Need to see when the movie starts? Use the cinema app.

We’re connected at an unprecedented amount, and it seems that despite being given this huge gift of potential knowledge, we merely take the cream from the top, gobble it down then complain when there’s no more cream.

Right now, my Facebook news feed is filling with complaints about the fact that the network has changed its user interface — once again. So, despite this being the 51, 234, 543rd change to Facebook over the past few years, and despite every one of those changes gaining a similar response from users, and despite the changes eventually being accepted by users to a point where they’re considered preferable to the 51, 234, 544th inevitable change, we’re still getting complaints.

Why? Is it just because we’ve become too used to that good fresh cream off the top?

Facebook has grown over the years to apply the global concept of connectivity the internet provides to a social framing that makes us infinitely more connected to those around us in an intimate way. It has changed the way we relate to each other. Friends can go months without seeing each other and still not feel like they’re slipping out of touch. It’s an amazing social interface, and while it’s up to you to decide if it’s changing us for better or worse, it’s undeniably changing us.

It’s also completely free. Which is why seeing endless complaint after endless complaint every single time they change it is starting to piss me off. I’m not talking about their oft-disputed privacy changes – if a service provides access to your information, you should absolutely have control and transparency from the corporation as to how that information is displayed. I’m talking about the fact that periodically, they’ll add a new feature, or move status updates around on the front page. They upgrade these things completely free of cost to the consumer. You don’t pay a cent for Facebook – if they wanna change it up a little, it’s not like you’ve got that much of an entitlement to bemoan the changes.

And yes, I suppose it can be a little frustrating having to adjust, but really – you know it’s gonna happen sooner or later. Why bother complaining about it anymore?


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