This week we travel into the future, but it is may not be a future you want to live in. Imagine a world without technology. No mobile phones. No computers, laptops, tablets. No electricity. No petrol to run your vehicles. No money or credit cards. I’m scaring you now, right?
This is exactly what you will discover when you read Station Eleven, a best selling novel by Emily St John Mandel. But, as you read, you will start to notice a resemblance to the events of 2020. Fortunately, life didn’t get to the extremes written in the book, but it does give food for thought about where we could have ended up.
When the author wrote the book about a deadly flu sweeping the planet and wiping out humanity, she probably didn’t anticipate that a real virus would appear in 2020. Yet, ironically life had now imitated fiction.
The book takes you through what the new world is like for those lucky enough to survive the flu outbreak and how they make do with whatever they find. New smaller communities begin to gather as people discover there are others like themselves wandering aimlessly across the deserted world. Buildings are ravaged by looters, cars are parked wherever they ran out of petrol and technology is left laying on the ground once electricity ceased to exist.
It may seem impossible that this could happen, but what if the events of 2020 actually led us into a world illustrated by Station Eleven?
Throughout history the world has known viruses, flus and plagues to pop up every so often as kind of a lesson to society. A lesson that many choose to ignore so the world keeps sending out its cues.
What are these lessons the world and Mother Nature are trying to show us? Do we really need all these luxuries to live a happy life? Have we really let technology replace proper face to face communication? Do we take what we are given for granted? Do we simply assume that what we want will always be there?
Take for example people waiting for the train. What is the first thing you notice? Everyone has their head hunched over a mobile device scrolling through whatever random feed appears on their social network. That social feed is probably not that important, it possibly won’t help them solve their problems or provide a solution to their happiness. Yet people have become programmed to automatically pull out their mobile phones and immediately glue their eyes to the screen.
Even if they are in a group with others – you will notice they all have their heads down over the mobile device ignoring each other. Okay, they may be sending each other text messages to talk. Yet this constant use of technology has broken down what it means to have a proper, healthy face to face conversation.
Imagine again that you have no mobile phone, how will you communicate? You are probably hyperventilating at the thought. Yet this is what the characters in Station Eleven have learned to adapt to. They have learned new ways to communicate and receive information.
As I sit on the train writing this post, ironically on a tablet device myself, when I look around only one person is reading a book. That is, an actual book with paper pages you turn. Most others are on a mobile or tablet device.
As the characters in Station Eleven struggle to remember what life was like before their world of technology and modern luxuries collapsed, it is a timely reminder for us. A reminder to stop and take a moment to be grateful for what we have and to appreciate the simple act of real communication. Because one day you may see your world disappear just like it did in Station Eleven.