I’ve reached the stage in life where the thought that some trends are passing me by brings great relief. When I was younger and heard elders talk like I’m talking now I felt disappointment. How could they not want to move with the times? Now I see it as a case of knowing the times will be eventually be over and wanting to continue to do certain familiar things with the time left.
It’s easy to identify trends I’ll never really have to consider. Take binging on bitcoin. I’m happy never to understand or get involved with bitcoin. I have learned that it is possible to use bitcoin to pay for a house, and that some consider it a Ponzi scheme, because it is also possible to lose your shirt on it. All I need to know.
Then there are trends in the “not likely I’ll adopt, but you never know” category. “Alexa is now at home in new subdivisions,” was a recent headline in the Seattle Times. New homeowners can use Amazon’s voice-activated software “to toggle lights and door locks and play music.” Wow!
I’m in no rush for 5G (fifth generation wireless networking), which promises “to change our world” through much faster transmission of images and video. I hope not to see the Star Wars series on my phone, or watch the epic historical film, Lawrence of Arabia on that device. There’s nothing appealing about seeing vast expanses of space and desert on a 5.8- inch screen.
Creepier trends include the one reported by the Associated Press, “Boston Dynamics’ scary robot videos: Are they for real?” about “experimental robots resembling animal predators” that will soon be introduced to the world as security guards. The company’s CEO “played down popular fears that his company’s robots could one day be used to kill.” Not that I ever had plans to buy a commercial robot, but I think I’d be happier not knowing about these particular machines.
Writer Tad Friend speculates about much darker trends in “Superior Intelligence.” (The New Yorker, May 14, 2018) “Autocratic regimes could readily exploit the ways in which A.I.’s (artificial intelligence) are beginning to jar our sense of reality.” Apparently they’re good at creating fake video and audio that “could hasten the advent of a full-time surveillance/full-on-paranoia state.”
Yesterday, I was sad to meet the newest trend in grocery shopping. Our local store is now pushing scanners and training on how to use them so shoppers can do everything for themselves. No need to bother with those expendable checkers or the people who know not to pack the eggs on the bottom of our bags and even offer to carry them to our cars. We can weigh and scan our fruits and vegetables and everything else as we shop, then check ourselves out. No more customer service, only self-service. I regret that this is one trend I will have to adapt to and probably soon.