Innovation, children, is the current buzzword these days.
At least it is in the circles, your daddy travels in. It’s not a bad word. In fact, Daddy has used it for years. Maybe not out loud, but certainly in that playground called his mind.
Innovation is nice; it means progress is being made. Generally, I am an advocate for progress. However, as the Dave Matthews Band said in the song The Dreaming Tree, “Now progress takes away from what forever took to find”. I say this because newer and bigger does not necessarily equal “better”. Let me hopefully illustrate this a little with a couple of examples….
Let’s start with movie theaters. When I was a child there were hardly any movie theaters. The few movie theaters that existed had between two and eight screens, and the tickets were taken at each screen. Nowadays, we have multiplexes with digital screens and sound systems, and the tickets are taken when you walk into the theater. Does it sound and look better? Yes. There are also a lot more movies that are churned out these days, which means there are more good movies and more bad movies.
The way the multiplexes are set up, though, encourages theater hopping. Think about it: You walk in, they take your ticket, and then you have your choice of 20-30 movies. After you walk into the theater, you go over to the concession stand, and they want to sell you 15 pounds of soda and popcorn with free refills. It’s like they are asking you to camp there for the day. Of course, when you walk into the movie, they show you a commercial about how piracy is not a victimless crime. Movie theaters have improved in certain aspects but in other ways they have detracted. They have better sound systems, pictures, and ways to quickly move people through lines, but now that same innovation promotes people to steal.
Another example is telecommunications. When I was a wee lad, homes usually had one phone line. I remember my great-grandma had a party line down on her farm. A party line meant that several houses shared the same number. They took turns and made it work. Nowadays, everyone has a cellphone including kids…little kids! It used to be hard to catch someone on the phone. Now you can find anyone almost any time of day. Phones also have GPS which used to be a science fiction concept. Now, if you are carrying a cell phone, you can be tracked. It’s nice to get a hold of anyone at any hour, but it also removes a certain aspect of privacy. That’s gone, and I don’t see it coming back.
The thing is, kids, innovation means we are moving forward. Progress is great, but you have to watch out for the downsides to it. The industrial revolution brought many improvements to our world, but it also brought a lot of pollution, injuries, overcrowding, and child labor victims. Our food these days is a lot easier to cook, but according to a good percentage of the world, our quick food has a lot of consequences to it: obesity, cancer, high cholesterol, and a slew of other heath problems. There is the question of are there more diseases now than there was 200 years ago, or are we just better informed?
Instant communication and instant gratification have brought forth a lack of patience along with progress. A lack of patience has brought an increasing amount of debt. Debt leads to even more problems. What I want you to understand is that progress and innovation aren't bad, but constantly looking for the next bigger and better thing will hurt you in the long run. Enjoy the progress that will be made over your life, but also learn contentment with what you have. Eventually, everything on earth will go away, and the things that were so important to you, will no longer matter. Read the book of Ecclesiastes, children, and do not chase after the wind.