The Old Coot sees the future

Evolution is a slow process, so slow it can’t be witnessed in a human life span. Afterall it was “Lucy’s” fossil remains that revealed the transition from knuckle dragger to upright walking that took place some 3.2 million years ago. 

Walking upright was one of two major requirements essential to the development of the human species. A large brain was the other. Lucy was off to a good start, but she had a small head (and a small brain). Eventually, it got bigger and here we are, fully evolved humans, pretty much as we have been for tens of thousands of years. A change has now entered the evolutionary process, stimulating a dramatic alteration to humankind.  

A thousand years from now, archaeologists will uncover human fossil remains from this era, and learn that the 21st century was a critical juncture in human evolution, caused by the introduction of the smart phone. Eventually, our memories and intellectual knowledge will be completely transferred to these electronic devices, relieving our brains of considerable burden.  Small heads, and possibly a third arm (to hold the device while doing other things), are two of the evolutionary changes that archeologists will pin down to the second decade of the 21st century, the decade when the smart phone was fully adopted by societies across the planet. In just a fraction of time, on the evolutionary scale, our species will change because of this evolutionary stimulus. 

Teenagers and young adults were early adopters of smart phones. We elders laughed at them, sitting around a table, texting back and forth, no longer carrying on face-to-face conversations. That behavior has now gone mainstream. Even old coots like me, are tethered to these devices. When we sit around talking, acting like we’re paying attention, we are distracted by the phone, listening for a beep. It’s like a pistol in a gunslinger’s holster, ready to be drawn in a flash to get a message or to fire at the web in search of a fact that no one in the group could supply from their own head. Often, the entire bunch races through the Internet in an attempt to be first with the answer. 

Conversations are also laced with interruptions, as participants shove a phone in front of each other’s faces, forcing us to look at a picture or a video about it is claimed, “You have to see this! You’re gunna love it!” (Often we don’t)

We are all guilty of this, we’re like 1st graders coming home from school, eager to show “Mom” what we made in class today. We’ve also become a testy, impatient bunch. We want things RIGHT AWAY! We send someone a text and are irritated that they don’t immediately respond, or God forbid, don’t respond at all. It puts us in a funk.  

So here we, on the cusp of an evolutionary explosion, destined to evolve into an electro-mechanical humanoid who, like “Lucy,” walks upright and has a tiny head. You can watch it happen right before your very eyes. But I wouldn’t worry about it, not until your favorite hat, that fits a little too tight, drops down over your ears. Just don’t let the surprise make you drop your phone. 

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