Throughout recorded history, humans have been a tribal species, whether nomadic or local. It is your tribe with whom you travel, identify and to whom you come home. Sometimes you fight for them against other tribes.
The Internet has changed all that and, in a cultural moment, we are perhaps in the most significant paradigm shift since amphibious creatures walked out of the water.
In a second, anyone can be connected to anyone, friend or stranger, on the planet. This permits us to form new friendships, make new enemies and argue insistently about something that we would not have known until the news came on to one of the black and white (I know this is going far back) TV channels that served mostly urban and well-off families.
People had to work hard and did not have time for idle conversation except perhaps on hot summer evenings, when the lack of air-conditioning, forced us all outside together. Wars had to be fought with actual tanks, guns and bombs.
I could go on, but I will leave it to the reader to add to these points, as anyone over the age of adolescence will be able to do. We were a slow moving analogue species. In fact, we still are, but we are now living in a digital world. It is evident that we must change, in fact already have.
That ubiquitous cell phone visible around the world in the most marginalized and impoverished hands, has become a virtual extension of every human brain. While it is predicted that we will soon have robots doing most of our work and miniature cells embedded in our brains and bodies, the fact is that we already do.
Google itself made the huge set of encyclopedia Britannica that my parents bought us on a time plan, one book a month, starting with A and going all the way to Z, obsolete. In many school systems, they are no longer teaching script, as we use buttons to type out everything from notes to novels, as I myself am doing right now.
There is a practice taking hold in medicine and in psychotherapy, my own field, that allows diagnosis and treatment via the Internet. These are new specialties in which practitioners are trained. Issues concerning relationship, empathy and even payment are altered, as I can easily be sitting in a café in Beijing providing service to a client in Brooklyn. Payment for the session takes only another minute as money is also transferred electronically.
It is enormously difficult for our species to make this transition so rapidly and even for those who can do it, it introduces various levels of stress into an ordinary day. We are not made, as a species, to be digital or to multi-task and it is difficult for many older people to learn, resulting in a plethora of grandmother jokes.
Young children born into this world learn it as a first or second language. I actually had a three year old named Diego set up my first Iphone for me years ago. He had no problems except his frustration at how slow I was. Eventually these chips will be embodied into our brains and our bodies. They will be used to instantly develop new skills and cure old diseases. Yes, we already have become part analogue and part digital creatures. This is the next step of evolution and it can not be avoided. It will be continued, so get ready-or as ready as you can.