Roll With The Changes

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I think the main social rift that is causing so many problems is that we are still holding on to societal constructs that were workable several decades ago, but no longer really fit in today’s world. Especially with the advent of the internet, cell phones, and other global, instant forms of communication. We’re a global society now, and all the individual societies are trying to impose their traditional ways on the whole.

We can change how things are done in the same way that the record companies had to adjust to the reality of digital music. When the mp3 file format came out, music could be copied and shared very quickly and for an unlimited number of times. The record companies were used to selling units of albums, whether it was vinyl, cassette, CD or whatever. They were used to selling a physical package, and didn’t know how to adjust. So, they decided to start suing everyone. Then, they finally realized that digital music wasn’t going anywhere and the demand was high, so they had to change how they did business. They had to largely abandon the old model and start selling individual songs as well as albums. Sure, they sold singles back in the day, but unless a certain song was released as a single, one had to buy the album to get it. Now, a person can purchase any songs they choose from an artist.

The internet is now allowing people to make money directly, which is resulting in much of the “middleman” industries going by the wayside. Book publishers, record companies, real estate agents, and others who used to be the only means through which certain things could be obtained are now becoming obsolete as people can now record and sell their own albums, self-publish books, and research homes on their own.

Something else that has changed is the idea of employment. It used to be that a person held a single job for an employer for decades. Then again, wages were comparably higher and there were pensions. Employers were expected to take care of their employees. This has changed, and at the same time that companies are now cutting everything they can from employees, people are now finding creative ways to work for themselves. The old work ethic no longer applies, and the definition of a “real job” or a career is now quite malleable. People chafe at the new and unfamiliar and will criticize it as fanciful or unrealistic, when in fact, it is rapidly becoming the new reality for many to have several sources of income, most of which is online. Careers are becoming obsolete.

Basically, society is split between those who wish to retain the mid-1900s ways of doing things versus those who are embracing the many changes. Of course, these changes also come with a social cost. People are becoming so attached to their phones that many people are having trouble relating to other people directly and live their lives constantly staring at one screen or another. It’s caused a social detachment. Where people used to memorize phone numbers and addresses, now people communicate with a couple of clicks and when something happens to their contact lists, they go into a panic as they scramble to get everyone’s contact info again, some of which may be gone forever. Not that long ago, people kept little books with people’s info in them, and the frequent contacts were memorized. The technology is useful, but is also dangerous when we are dependent on it.

The change that the record companies made is proof that we can adjust to the way things are. At this point, we are simply faced with old, stuck mindsets and denial. However, we must also balance this with retaining our humanity and make sure not to lose our sense of community. In fact, all this technology would be put to better use as a way to foster human unity and bring people together to create a truly interconnected and cooperative world. We just need to get over the idea that profit is the main goal, and instead make our mutual well-being, progress and fulfillment the ultimate focus.

© 2015 William Suphan

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