Convenience vs. Nostalgia: How We Can Find Pleasure in a Modernizing World
Waving your phone in the air at a concert doesn’t have quite the same effect.
We live in amazing times, with virtually every modern convenience available to us on demand. But is something lost when we replace the old with the new?
Casting aside convenience, modern replacements of the digital kind run the risk of depersonalizing the human connection. That is the physical experience that accompanies a real-life interaction.
Think of talking to someone in person or holding and sorting through photographs. What about literally putting pen to paper or even struggling with liquid paper to “delete” a letter or word on a piece of paper thread through a typewriter.
A degree of sensitivity (literally input from the senses) is lost when we use modern replacements.
What about going to a concert and when a ballad came on everyone whipped out their cigarette lighters and swayed back and forth? The memories! These days if you even manage to get to see live music (thanks COVID), you’d be hard-pressed to see any real flames in the air. Instead, the crowd would be awash with torches from smartphones.
But waving your phone in the air doesn’t seem to have quite the same effect somehow.
Dating and pleasure are all about modern replacements
In the realm of all things sex, dating, and relationships, there has been a tsunami of modern replacements to address the challenge of picking up or falling in love.
Dating apps are an obvious example. But with the paradox of (too much) choice, many people despair at the excruciatingly difficult endeavor of finding love (or just good sex) online. Why bother persisting with someone when you can simply and quickly choose another?
If you do fancy just getting your rocks off without the help of another person, you no longer need to rely on your imagination for sexual fantasies or magazines like Playboy. Or even videos or DVDs of (hilarious) tacky porn that was watched so many times it was like watching your favorite movie on repeat.
Sex tech has opened up a vast array of assisted—digital—ways to get your pleasure hit. Modern replacements in this realm, such as the Bump’n Joystick, can greatly assist people with limited hand and fine motor skills mobility who may otherwise struggle to masturbate. Just because a body is not fully abled, shouldn’t mean you can’t have an orgasm.
Modern replacements offer incredible convenience
Humans are all about progress. Moving ahead, building, developing, recreating, and inventing. We got this far because of the capacity people have to do away with the old for something modern, shiny, and new.
Don’t get me wrong—this is a fantastic thing (as I sit here on my laptop whilst playing with my smartwatch). It’s hard to fathom surviving the pandemic we’re still going through without modern replacements for communication.
Getting food would be almost impossible without growing them yourself if you were isolated in your shack and didn’t have the internet to rely on. Late night burger craving after binge watching Netflix all day? There’s an app for that. Run out of homegrown veggies for your lockdown soup? Jump onto your local supermarket website and order home-delivered groceries.
Oh the convenience!
Modern replacements save lives. We can scan bodies deep inside and closely study a person’s DNA make-up. Prenatal genetic screening of fertilized zygotes can help parents-to-be save their future offspring from a life-limiting inherited disease. Brain scans such as an MRI or a CT scan can detect changes and disease processes at early stages. Freely available DIY kits can be sent off with some of your saliva for analysis to trace your ancestral and geographical roots.
I mean seriously, how amazing is that?
Think of all the technology that is available now to help women have safe and healthy pregnancies and babies. Yes, a hands-on approach is still very important (midwives will hopefully never become obsolete) but ask any anxious pregnant person if they’d opt for a modern replacement for prenatal care and I’d bet most would say yes.
There are now available apps for a pregnant person to track their pregnancy and send information to their primary prenatal caregiver. This may be particularly useful for high-risk pregnancies. While this offers a way to monitor risks and seek help quickly, for an anxious person this constant monitoring may heighten fears. In this way, modern replacements might be seen as a double-edged sword.
Nothing can replace real human touch
But the reassurance of a physical person goes far. Very far.
When we are distressed, a gentle hand on the shoulder or thigh, or a meaningful look can send powerful messages in difficult moments. A warm embrace at the end of a stressful day can be restorative. A kiss held for ten seconds holds much quiet soft depth between two lovers.
I’m not sure sexting or video chats can offer the same engagement with real human senses. But, if that is all there is available—especially in times of separation and loneliness—then how fantastic that is.
Maybe the answer is somewhere in between
Perhaps we still need the best of both worlds: Modern replacements and old sentiments.
Ultimately, we build on old sentiments with modern replacements to offer more and better—connection, convenience, healthcare, safety and care for the planet.
Within each of us there are old sentiments. All of us are in fact ‘modern replacements’ of who we were yesterday, last year, the last decade, and so on. We are old and new all together, just like the world around us. Surely that is a wonderful thing?
Image sources: Micadew