Kin Lane

The Web Will End Up Being Just Like Automobiles

In my mind, the web will end up being just like automobiles. Everywhere. Dominating our life. Believing we can’t live without. While also polluting, destroying our environment, health, impacting our physical lives, but yet we will keep doubling down. Everyone keeps declaring that Internet technology is inevitable and will just keep marching forward, with endless innovations just off on the horizon. Perpetually looking forward, rather than ever pausing for a moment to look at the state of things. And, like commuters isolated I our automobiles, we will never truly acknowledge just how shitty this technology has actually made our lives, and refuse to ever accept there is any other to live.

Like the automobile, the web will continue to have meaningful use cases, and possessing areas where it has a profoundly positive effect on our life. However, this good will always be outweighed by the bad, but for some reason we’ll never truly be able to come to terms with this reality. Cars kill many people every year. Cars pollute and cause massive damage to the environment. We spend trillions on infrastructure to accommodate cars. Cars contribute to obesity, asthma, and many other health conditions. Cars keep us isolated. While the web doesn’t deliver at quite the same scale, you have to remember that cars have been around for over a hundred years, and the web has only been around for only about 30 years, just give it some time. While many will argue that cars make our lives better, I would argue that they do not as much as you think. Similarly, many will argue that the web makes our lives better, I would argue that it does not as much as you think.

I am trying to live the rest of my life without ever owning a car again. My life is better not owning a car. I’m less angry. I’m healthier. Sure, it limits where I can live. I still drive from time to time. I just rent cars instead of buying and maintaining them. After 30 years on the web, I’m taking some lessons from my love / hate relationships with automobiles, and applying it early on–to the web. I’m not giving up the web, I’m just realizing early on that it isn’t all it is believed to be. I prefer life outside of a vehicle, and offline. It doesn’t mean I should spend 100% of my time outside of a vehicle and offline, it just means I realize they are both more about control than they are about freedom. I still need to be able to drive, and I still need to be able to make a living and operate within society using the web. I just do not need to have my life dominated and controlled by these ubiquitous and powerful technological forces in our world.

In the future we will continue to curb our usage of cars. It just isn’t sustainable. At some point we’ll have to give into something that is a little more socialized, and less individual. I just think the world is changing too, and the younger generations do not have the love affair with the car that older generations did. I believe we’ll see a similar cycle with web technology. It will continue to penetrate every aspect of our lives. It will begin to kill more people. It will become more destructive. The bad will continue to outsize the good. Most of it will be shit. Eventually we will grow weary of it being everywhere in our lives. It will take a lot of work to take our lives back, and the world around us from the spread of this technology. The physical toll of something that is so intangible will continue to grow. There is no turning back. There will be only existing in the cracks, and pushing back for control over our on and offline lives. However, we can learn from the overall arc of automobiles and transportation technology, and work to make the arc shorter, and potentially less damaging to the world at large.

Ultimately we can’t buy into the web ideology, and be duped that somehow it makes us more free, connected, and bringing endless convenience to our busy lives. They are just trying to establish the same type of brand identity around the web as was established for earlier generations of the car. My parents, and grandparents identity was all wrapped up in the automobile. I’m guess millennial and future generations identity will be all wrapped up in the web. And identity and brand that will eventually fade. Never quite living up to the hype. Never quite fulfilling you. However, you will never be able to fully step away, and live your life, because of the amount of time, investment and resources it will take to maintain the identity you’ve been sold. Being online will become a chore. Just like driving is most of the time. You will grow to accept it, like some sort of digital Stockholm syndrome. Identifying with our captors. Accepting it. Rather than actually living, and resisting the inevitable future that corporations and entrepreneurs are selling us. Stop and ask yourself, does your car bring you joy? Does your time on the web bring you joy? Then be honest with yourself, and make some changes.