zeitgeist: the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time.
Six months ago you couldn’t open up your Facebook feed without seeing yet another video of someone dumping a bucket of ice water on themselves, ostensibly as a challenge to support ALS research. Six years ago 3D movies were all the rage. Seems like you couldn’t go to a theater without having at least three screens devoted to each movie, with two of those screens having a third dimension to them. Sixty years ago all the kids were doing the Twist, getting down with their bad selves. And six hundred years ago exploring took center stage, with all the popular men of the age in search of new lands, new routes, or money for their favorite monarch.
The difference in all of these ventures is of course the length of time each one lasted. In this current age of “easy come, easy go” it’s no wonder that things like the ice bucket challenge swept the nation quickly and then disappeared. Six years ago, though, the excitement over 3D movies was pretty big for at least a couple of years before dwindling. Sixty years ago the Twist was popular for half a decade, and really drove the shifting culture of that time period. And explorers of the 1400s and 1500s were only getting started with the journeys that would define and redefine the world itself. We still have explorers in that same vein today.
Were we truly more culture conscious back in the day than we are today? Are we too easily sucked into the zeitgeist of the moment instead of focusing on what will have a lasting impression on our lives and on our world? I admit it’s easy to lose focus with all of the constantly changing perspectives, with all of the “cell phone immediacy” that has plagued the world of late. With all of this information at our fingertips it’s easy to see how we would get bored with just one focus, with just one ongoing trend that pushes through the intermittent fads. I mean, do you even remember what the first screen of Farmville looks like anymore? When was the last time you looked at your ultra important mySpace page?
What is the true trend of our culture today? We are fed up with politics as usual, and pleased with the prices at the pump, and confused about where we should stand on gay marriage, and married to our phones for every shred of information we can possibly milk from them. We believe in individual thought, yet we constantly turn to public opinion to shape our own thoughts. We yell at our kids because that’s the only way we think we get through to them, because Dr. Phil told us that’s what we need to do. We idolize celebrities, but we don’t mind checking out naked photos of them that have been hacked by the detritus of the world. We believe we can make a difference because someone told us at some point that we could, but we don’t do anything to make that happen.
The truest trend we have today is simply our reliance on technology, and our inability to truly function as autonomous beings without having that safety net that it provides. If we can’t Google it then it doesn’t exist. Our books are digital images on screens. Even our homes are wired into these central wi-fi networks that are beautiful when they work, and that take massive abuse when they don’t. It’s interesting that when the power goes out, or when our wi-fi isn’t working we’re the crankiest people on the planet when a mere 30 years ago there were so many other options of things for us to do. I believe we were more capable back then because we had to be. That’s the saddest part of this trend.
But here I am using it to write my blog for the world to see instead of only writing these words in a small book that’s for my eyes only. And I’m enjoying it, so I guess maybe the trend isn’t all bad. I guess it depends how you use the technology, if it’s just a crutch for you, or if it’s an extension of what you’re already doing without the technology. It’s what I always said in the classroom. If you’re relying on the technology to teach your lesson then something’s wrong, but if you’re utilizing it as a resource then you’re doing just fine.
Now let me get back to Trivia Crack. I have a high score to obliterate.