Cause we are living in a digital world and I am a digital girl… Well, I may have made a slight tweak to Madonna’s ultra famous 1984 hit song Material Girl, but I think you get my drift. We are indeed living in a digital world.

But as the COVID-19 restrictions ease, we are once again craving for the material world. We want that human touch and those in-person events. It may seem, from a certain lens, that our overdose on all that is digital has led us to wanting to detox from it.

When reflecting on the first two decades of the digital century, I can’t help but ask: what is the best that we could possibly do with our new capabilities and capacities? Should we all just go back to how life was before the pandemic happened? How can we balance our digital lives with our in-person lives?

The Digital Revolution

The Digital Revolution, also known as the Third Industrial Revolution, marks the beginning of the Information Age. It sprang into being in the later half of the 20th century. It led to a significant shift from mechanical and analogue technologies to digital electronics. Personal computers were born and we started to store information digitally.

The basic building block of the Digital Revolution is the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET or MOS transistor). It is the most widely manufactured device in history.

To critics, digital technology has produced a consumerist culture. The new capabilities of digital technology have not yet been actualised. Why? It seems that much of its output is being channeled into a narrow sphere of activity focused on entertainment, communications and the collection and processing of data.

We are not actually using it to improve our lives, the earth or humanity as a whole.

Some easily identifiable aspects of the digital age include: greater interconnectedness which has come with increased social isolation; the unearthing of previously hidden information as well as significantly increased levels of media saturation. It is all a mixed bag with mixed results.

The beginning of the third decade of the digital century is an opportunity to reassess not only the results of the recent decades, but also to decide how we are going to proceed going forward.

Will we learn to make the most of our new found capabilities?

That depends entirely on our aspirations and our dreams. What are the dreams that we have based on what we can do with our state of technology? There is much that we can do if we remain disciplined and focused and much that we will miss if we get caught up in the whirlwind of short-lived moments that ultimately don’t amount to very much.

The Digital Age has bestowed upon us numerous wonderful opportunities. But this age–like all ages that came before it–is not without its dangers and follies.

Perhaps the adage shouldn’t be ‘Buyer Beware’, but rather, ‘User Beware’.

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