Sunday, 24 March 2013

How Long Until Our Entire Lives Go Digital?

No one can deny the impact technology has had on human lives, in particular, the Internet. A lot of this has been highly beneficial, making our lives far easier. Some of these inventions look like things from sci-fi films of the past, and I often wonder how long it will be until we have the technology we dream of in more recent films.

The Internet allows us to see people on the other side of the world as if they were in front of us, access any information in seconds and purchase nearly anything we want. It is also a great platform for new talent, particularly in the music industry. It is impossible to not use it, particularly in the work world, where everything requires a computer of some sort, even if it is only used for something as basic as email.   

       However, I, like many others, sometimes miss simpler times. So many of us are reliant on our computers, phones and other gadgets, myself included. We compulsively check Facebook and Twitter, often before doing anything else in the morning, and ‘just Google it’ has become the standard response for any unanswered questions we may have. I have found it possible to write entire university essays using online journals, without entering the library. And emails are quick and easy, but who wouldn’t love to receive a hand-written letter in the post nowadays?

Children are growing up entirely computer literate, which will be beneficial in our modern, digital world, but really, why do eight year olds need smart phones? Children should spend their youth discovering the world first hand, exploring what is around them, and not doing it through a screen.

My biggest pet hate is the digitalisation of films, music and especially, books. I understand why it is easier to have all these things in one place, and that they are now much more portable. I certainly would not part with my iPod easily. However, I am a romantic, and I like having collections of things I can see and hold. I have boxes of CDs and shelves upon shelves of books, and there is just something so much nicer about them than one little electronic device. I do upload my CDs onto an iPod, as I like playlists and mixing up what I’m listening to, but I prefer having physical copies for peace of mind – I’ve seen too many computers crash and hundreds of files get lost.

As for books, I hate e-readers. Reading anything electronic for too long hurts my eyes, and you can’t mark pages or make notes or underline quotes on an e-reader. Books are much more personal, and I like that everyone’s copies are unique to them, even though the story inside might be the same as another’s. They are also wonderful for decorating a room, displaying collections of the art (literature, music, films) that you love. It disgusts me how many of my fellow literature students use e-readers, when we of all people should be first in defending traditional books. And despite portability benefits, I would still carry a heavy tome around rather than an electronic version, as it’s just not the same.

Maybe I’m in denial, but I sincerely hope that we can preserve these things. I am pretty reliant on my electronics, but I hope I never let my entire life go digital. We’ve already come close to losing HMV, let’s not send Waterstones and our libraries the same way.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Marriage in the Modern World

This topic struck me as of late, since I haven’t been to many weddings and my cousin is engaged and my mother has been heavily involved in helping with the preparations. Marriage today seems to me, an entirely different affair to what it once was, and I can’t help but wonder what the point in it is sometimes. With divorce rates rising and fewer people bothering to marry in the first place, I have begun to question my own opinions.

For years, I always assumed I would get married one day, as it was just the normal thing to do. Most of my older relatives are married and now many of my elder cousins are reaching the same point. As for many typical teenage girls, I like the idea of finding one person to spend the rest of my life with, and getting married as a way to cement this. Weddings themselves always seemed wonderful to me; flowers, decorations, a beautiful dress. They are almost like a day in which you can forget about the real world and the problems of daily life, and just get to enjoy being in love. However, watching the ongoing preparations for my cousin’s wedding is rapidly putting me off this idea. I am now struggling to understand why people spend so much time, effort and money planning for one day. It seems like so much hassle to get everything arranged, and has to be done ridiculously far in advance. Personally, I would far rather use that money and plan something more significant, probably travelling in my case. A lot of people may argue that they want to have a special day and get to be the centre of attention, but I think I would find the whole affair highly embarrassing. I’m not a fan of public displays of affection, so getting up in front of a room of people and declaring my love for someone would be awful for me. I think if I ever did get married, I would keep the wedding very small and simple. A hideously over the top affair with hundreds of people would be a nightmare.

            I also think it is silly to spend so much on one day, when divorce and remarriage are so common nowadays. Everyone would like to think that the first person they marry will be the one they spend the rest of their life with, but this is less and less frequently the case. The hassle of organising one wedding puts me off entirely, but people who do it three, four times? Surely it starts to lose its meaning and becomes less special each time. I think marriage had more significance in the past, when people didn’t get divorced, didn’t live together or have sex before marriage, and it also involved amalgamating their property, income etc. Now, I’m certainly not saying we should revert back to a women’s property becoming her husband’s – but nowadays, people get married and simply carry on as they did beforehand. They just spend a lot of money on a lavish occasion to let everyone know that they will continue to do so. Many unmarried couples are together for longer than married ones now. Marriage was also traditionally performed religiously in church, but many people are atheists who have their weddings in other venues, so while they are legally bound together, the religious, spiritual aspect of the union is largely insignificant and lost in the modern world. The sole purpose marriage has now is pledging yourself to someone for the rest of your life – but is an expensive ceremony necessary to do so?

            Personally, I have concluded that while marriage seems like a nice idea, still celebrated by many, and plenty of marriages do last in the long run, it is not nearly so important nowadays. I am not religious, I don’t care about having a big wedding and I understand the practicalities of the real world, which sadly means many couples don’t work out, and therefore, I do not feel marriage is necessary. I don’t mean to say we should lose the custom – I am very supportive of people who do choose to get married, and if asked, I would accept a proposal. I’m also not entirely cynical about love, as I do hope to find someone I want to spend my life with. However, I am not longing to get married, and if I ever do, it will certainly be a small, private affair. 
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