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Are We Loosing More Than We’Re Gaining?

Posted on Saturday, August 18 at 21:15 by QBC

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Are we loosing more than we’re gaining?

I was watching a preview to a show, I think on the Discovery Civilization channel, about how many small and very old cultures are being lost around the world. Now, I haven’t actually seen the show yet, but it started me thinking about what all is disappearing compared to what we’re gaining.

With technology and the world becoming a smaller place, is it indeed a good thing for us and everything else that inhabits the Earth? Don’t get me wrong, there are some wondrous technological advancements that are real positives. Some in the world of medicine, travel, scientific understanding of many natural events, our history, the list goes on and on. The thing that makes me wonder is the idea that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

We can genetically alter plants to produce healthier and more productive strains of grain. The same ground will produce up to 50% more food. The possible problem with this, it also limit’s the genetics around the world of these grains and could result in the collapse of our food supply. If the limited strains of these grains were attacked by an adaptive parasite, mould, disease or virus, without the variety of genetics that existed prior to the genetic engineering, no longer could we just switch to a variety not effected by the attacking organism. Equal and opposite reaction, possibly.

With the Global village becoming more and more a reality in our lives, we are loosing languages around the world at an alarming rate. Many old dialects have disappeared or are in the process of fading away because of the limited number of languages being used to conduct business or just simple communication between people from around the world. Young people don’t see the need to learn their respective cultures old languages because they really won’t use them much in their day to day dealings. They could spend the time better learning something that they will use or benefit them on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that people don’t consider tradition and where they came from as important as learning a new technology. The loss I think far out weighs the benefit of the modern world.

As an addition to the loss of language, we are indeed loosing culture and knowledge as we gain technology. How much ancient knowledge is being cast aside and forgotten about due to new technologies or the lack of understanding of these ancient technologies? Eastern medical practises are looked at by western medicine as little more than tribal witchcraft even though they admit they have very little understanding or taken any real time to understand it. This is true about more than just eastern medicine. What knowledge exists in other places that we are actually ignorant about? With the loss of these cultures due to the shrinking world culture, this could result in many amazing technologies and medical knowledge being lost forever.

It’s funny that so many people around the world are captivated by the search for Atlantis. That legendary place that held knowledge that we don’t have even today. That when Atlantis was destroyed, the survivors scattered around the world and gave their knowledge to the peoples they found. Some surmise that this resulted in the pyramids that are all around the world and many of the similarities we find between cultures from across the globe. It’s curious how we spend so much time, money and intellectual effort looking for knowledge that we as a species already possessed and lost. Even though no one can actually prove for sure that it even existed in the first place. It would be sad if our decedents in a hundred years start looking for the lost civilization or tribe from let’s say Peru that they believe held the cure for cancer or who know what else. The sad part would be that the tribe or civilization exists today, but we disregard it because we view them as primitive. That the young people from the tribe are leaving the old ways because of the allure of the modern world. The knowledge, not passed on and gone for good.

Even the joy of travelling may be diluted by the fact that people and places will start to look very much alike. When you go to Greece or Thailand, what will you see, malls and McDonalds? Eventually the similarities will outweigh the diversity between nations and we will have lost our independence and historical traditions. A sad day that will be.

I’m not really going to get into the discussion of the loss of species. There are those who blame the rise in extinctions on so many factors, it would take far more time then I am willing to commit to this to list them all. I’d just like to say that I believe it’s impossible to dismiss that many technological advancements have not contributed to the loss of species around the globe. With the loss of these species, not only are we losing amazing creatures that will never be seen again, but more of the bio diversity that makes this planet such and amazing and wondrous place.

The world has lost so much bio and cultural diversity in the last hundred years. It’s very difficult to justify it when you look at what and how we use the technological advancements we’ve developed. The world becoming a global village sure seems not to be the best thing for all the stake holders that cling to existence, that includes us. Just look at us on this website, how many people here have ever met and spoken face to face with another member? We’re loosing personal contact with people we even call friends. I hope we someday see past the MP3’s and text messages to rescue what’s so close to being lost to the detriment of our descendants and all the creatures that we share this very special place with.



Comments

  1. Sun Aug 19, 2007 2:57 am
    Seems to me to be a very good argument in support of multi-culturism.

  2. by avatar Strutz
    Sun Aug 19, 2007 3:39 am
    Well stated QBC. I understand exactly what you mean. The world is changing so quickly, perhaps too much in some ways. We have lost alot along the way and unfortunately this trend is likely to continue.

  3. Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:00 am
    Good points. :)

    This is why Historians, Archaeologists, Biologists, and other "ists" who seemingly provide no useful function actually do. We are at a point where we can easily store such knowledge. We can even store DNA of species that will soon be extinct and combined with Cloning, could even bring back in the future.

  4. Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:37 am
    Well, you make some valid points, but all things serve a purpose, and if there is no purpose, then why does it exist?

    Take languages for example. It is meant to give information from one person to the other. Having to two people who speak different languages isn't going to help them communicate. It is the natural for one language to slowly overtake the other languages and fill their role. In some ways this is better because there is less misunderstanding.

    But in the grand scheme of things, culture really doesn't matter. What really matters is if you have food on the table and you are happy. Many people abandoned their old ways(especially in the US) to adapt and have a better understanding of living. Now it does sound materialistic, but honestly, most people on this world would rather have material wealth than anything else. It might be sad, but it's the honest truth.

  5. by avatar kitty
    Sun Aug 19, 2007 11:59 am
    Really interesting.
    i suppose this is why we are attracted to musuems and to places like Upper Canada Village

  6. Sun Aug 19, 2007 3:17 pm
    most people on this world would rather have material wealth than anything else.


    Family, friends, and health mean far more to me than having a microwave or even a porsche.

  7. Sun Aug 19, 2007 3:33 pm
    "GerryHurt" said
    Seems to me to be a very good argument in support of multi-culturism.


    Yep if you have no culture I guess i'd support that crap also.

  8. Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:27 pm
    "Clogeroo" said
    most people on this world would rather have material wealth than anything else.


    Family, friends, and health mean far more to me than having a microwave or even a porsche.


    And you still have that in a material wealth society. It's the traditions that you give up.

  9. Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:40 pm
    Isn't "globalization" equally expanding our diversity by exposing everyone to other cultures and traditions? Centuries ago, when people were only exposed to a community of perhaps a few hundred people, you couldn't really say much about an individual's exposure to diversity, compared to today.

    I certainly don't mind losing the "tradition" of only eating certain foods, only being exposed to the views of people a stone's throw away, only hearing certain types of music, etc.

    Cultures aren't being lost, they're being merged. Technology might be blurring the boundaries between people, but I fail to see how that is having an overall negative impact.

    I also think the original post is a little hasty in stating that certain valuable aspects of "primative" cultures are disregarded - just because the Chinese claim a bottle of their rice wine can cure cancer, migraines, impotence, and heart disease doesn't mean it's at all true. Our "Western" knowledge of medicine specifically has exceeded that of any other historical culture - whether or not it is suitable used in practice is another question.

    Biodiversity, on the other hand, has significant implications beyond the threat of disease, etc. The need for a diverse range of plant and animal resouces goes beyond that, and the feel-good notion that we're 'preserving' nature.

    I apologise for the hasty response, I just wanted to make a few quick points - gotta jet!

  10. Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:54 pm
    The american melting pot produced another culture.

    Multiculturalism in Canada, manifests as newcomers keeping their language and the courts in Mississauga needing translators for as many as 20 languages. This does not result in a sharing of culture but the isolation of many folk from each other.

    It is healthy that our WASP culture has picked up Pizza and tacoes, it is great to see the scots once a year make weird noses and throw heavy things...........

  11. Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:29 am
    This is a subject that has come up in my house several times, and I'm in full agreement with you.

    On the family scale, this impact is equally as alarming.

    Children now can operate most any electronic device, but do not know how to "operate" a deck of cards.
    They can talk for hours on MSN, but have difficulty with face to face conversations (LOL just doesn't sound right when you say it out loud)
    They will play ball on Tuesday nights, but have no idea how to start a game on a Sunday afternoon with the neighbourhood kids (it's not scheduled).
    The can play ANY video game on the market at an expert level, but don't know how to play "Kick the Can" or Crib.
    They can reprogram a computer, but can't change the tube in the tire on their bike (this is assuming they even ride one)
    They can cook a gourmet meal in the microwave, but can't build a fire to cook a hot dog.
    They can tell you every feature on a PS2, but don't have a clue what the difference is between a spruce and a pine tree.

    The list goes on.....

    What kind of world will we be living in when these children are in charge?

  12. Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:42 pm
    proudcanukchick,

    I don't think the majority of the points you raised are the result of a negative influence by technology. They certainly don't reflect the loss of diversity QBC had discussed.

    "proudcanukchick" said
    Children now can operate most any electronic device, but do not know how to "operate" a deck of cards.

    ...

    The can play ANY video game on the market at an expert level, but don't know how to play "Kick the Can" or Crib.
    Given the complexity of various electronic devices compared to a deck of cards, this certainly isn't indicative of a degradation of their cognitive skills, but a shift in personal interests of a younger generation. The ability of today's children to follow complex directions, problem solve, etc, that's been developed through the use of more advanced technology like video games would make them more able to learn and play a card game than someone not exposed to them.

    Given the choice, though, why would you choose the simpler, less stimulating card game? What's inherently better about sitting around playing a card game with friends than sitting around playing a video game with friends? Don't get me wrong, I love playing cards, but other than their simplicity, they aren't inherently better than any other form of entertainment.

    "proudcanukchick" said
    They can talk for hours on MSN, but have difficulty with face to face conversations (LOL just doesn't sound right when you say it out loud)
    Do you have evidence that suggests they're worse off socially overall, though? Kids today interact with each other on almost a constant basis - through online discussions, games, phones, messaging, etc - in ways not available to past generations. In fact, barely anything involved with the latest technological advances doesn't have a social component associated with it. Kids, who all have confidence issues, can express themselves in any number of ways without fear of intimidation from others. With the internet, a child who might be teased or abused by his classmates can interact with others that share his/her interests, and that can only have a positive influence.

    "proudcanukchick" said
    They will play ball on Tuesday nights, but have no idea how to start a game on a Sunday afternoon with the neighbourhood kids (it's not scheduled).

    ...

    They can reprogram a computer, but can't change the tube in the tire on their bike (this is assuming they even ride one)
    They can cook a gourmet meal in the microwave, but can't build a fire to cook a hot dog.
    They can tell you every feature on a PS2, but don't have a clue what the difference is between a spruce and a pine tree.
    Isn't this indicative of the child's parenting, rather than the technology available to them? In my own experience, a large portion of the time I spent outside was after my parents kicked me out into the backyard - has technology somehow inhibited a parent from saying, "It's a nice day, why don't you turn off the TV and go outside and play?" I don't think that need for encouragement has increased significantly over the years, but perhaps parents' attention to the development of their children has.

    I'd also point out that you probably don't take the horse and buggy into town to buy a block of ice, and you probably don't wash your petticoat with a basin and washboard - why is it that the technology you use to make your life easier shouldn't be afforded to children as well?

    "proudcanukchick" said
    What kind of world will we be living in when these children are in charge?
    That's a fairly arrogant statement - rest assured your own parents probably said the same thing, yet here we are.

  13. Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:00 pm
    I understand what you're saying QBC, but at the same time, technology and globalization has helped mankind too.

    I read somewhere that a learned man circa 1500 knew enough to fill roughly one page of a newspaper. Today, the average person knows far more than that, about dozens of topics and places. Technology has also granted us the gift of travel so that we may see foreign cultures far more easily. 500 years ago, it was a perilous, life-threatening journey to see Asia or the New World. Today, it's as easy as getting on a plane. Now we can marvel at places and events that used to simply be an entry in an encyclopedia or book. I can walk on the Great Wall of China or visit the Pyramids in Egypt. I know from my own travels, yes you can see McDonalds in Tokyo or Paris, but you can also see the Meiji Shrine and the Eiffel Tower. And trust me, a shopping mall (the few that exist) in Japan is nothing like one in Edmonton or Los Angeles...

    To me this website is an amazing example of technology. It has connected all of us in a way that 25 years ago would have been impossible. That's truly incredible in my books.

    Animals, cultures and languages and even civilizations have always disappeared, so this is nothing new. It is happening faster these days, but just like the woolly mammoths disappeared 10,000 years ago and countless cultures (ever hear of the Akkadians or Etruscans these days) have disappeared, it will continue to happen. Does that make it right? No, but it is the way of the world unfortunately.

  14. Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:09 pm
    "proudcanukchick" said
    This is a subject that has come up in my house several times, and I'm in full agreement with you.

    On the family scale, this impact is equally as alarming.

    Children now can operate most any electronic device, but do not know how to "operate" a deck of cards.
    They can talk for hours on MSN, but have difficulty with face to face conversations (LOL just doesn't sound right when you say it out loud)
    They will play ball on Tuesday nights, but have no idea how to start a game on a Sunday afternoon with the neighbourhood kids (it's not scheduled).
    The can play ANY video game on the market at an expert level, but don't know how to play "Kick the Can" or Crib.
    They can reprogram a computer, but can't change the tube in the tire on their bike (this is assuming they even ride one)
    They can cook a gourmet meal in the microwave, but can't build a fire to cook a hot dog.
    They can tell you every feature on a PS2, but don't have a clue what the difference is between a spruce and a pine tree.

    The list goes on.....

    What kind of world will we be living in when these children are in charge?


    Ooops, too late. Children ARE in charge.



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