Sunday Times
A survey published this month, revealed that of all the European nations, the British lead the most unvaried, boring and Hamster-like existence.

Not surprisingly, I find reading the Sunday newspaper a depressing experience. The hanging threat of a cyanide gas attack on the underground adds a Russian Roulette-like feeling, to the overcrowded daily misery of the Central Line. Should you happen to survive the queue of muggers waiting patiently by the cash-point outside the station and make it safely home again before dinner, then you’ll find that the stock market has ended the day at its 1973 level and that some influential Westminster figure is suggesting that party membership should share equal weight with social geography and A levels results in considering the award of university places.

The IT press is hardly more encouraging. ‘Internet blamed for marriage break-ups’ shouts one headline. Apparently, meeting a new lover online and an ‘obsessive’ interest in pornography are the two top problems cited in many Internet-related divorce cases. Of course, the other principal cause, which, many of us will be familiar with, is an excessive pre-occupation with email, which isn’t so much an obsession, as a constant need to catch-up with the last five hundred emails that you haven’t read, mostly from colleagues and for some, occasionally from new friends in the expanding universe of Internet chat rooms.

Yesterday, I found myself sitting in the cockpit of my rather ancient airplane clutching a mug of hot coffee and regarding the circle of fog surrounding the farm-strip runway on which it was parked. While I waited for the weather to lift, I considered that when the aircraft was built, man hadn’t yet walked on the Moon and even the arrival of fax machine was a decade away. People worked a five day week and the expression, 24*7 had little or no meaning at all.

Did the communications revolution really add to the quality of life or did it simply make it more complicated, turning-up the daily pressure of existence to an unbearable level and leaving us chained to a rapidly turning wheel of our own making? I only ask this question, because at age forty-six, many of my friends remember what it was like to live and work before the Personal Computer arrived and are asking if enslavement to the demands a wired society is equal to the benefits? Within a few years communications and Instant Messaging will be constant and pocket-based experience. Is this what we really want, 24 hour pubs and Sunday trading or would many of us prefer rather less interruption and a little more time with the family and friends?

Of course, there’s never any going back and you can’t halt progress but did anyone ever ask?


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