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The vicious cycle of evolution

Between sips of a delicious coffee, I listen to a person twice my age relate how when he was young there were not really concerts of his favorite musical groups. It was not so easy for artists to come to the country, so it had to be enough to have their acetate record, or to tune in at the designated time on one of the two stations that broadcast them. At the same time, I hear someone whom I am twice his age change songs 10 times in 30 seconds because he was looking for one he may like, going through 10 different styles and without having to wait or pay for something extra.

What a great leap as a species we have taken, I think, what an abysmal difference there is between having to choose a single acetate record from the store and choosing among the entire musical universe with a single movement of your finger. However, the person twice my age tells it not only with Nostalgia (with a capital N) but with a tone that projects the feeling of having lost something great. At the moment I attribute it to it, to Nostalgia, and nothing else, sure and confident that now everything is better, that nothing has been in vain and that we have made a leap as a species and as a society with what we have built.

And then, on the way home, I pass by a trendy restaurant that was once a Blockbuster. The shadow of the letters and the giant broken-as-the-company ticket logo can still be distinguished in the concrete, as if it remembers that it was there.

But it is not so distant of a past, I was there, in that Blockbuster, looking for something to rent, hunting the people who returned the movies at that moment because some of them could be the premiere of the week that was already sold out, reading the reverse of each box carefully so that the synopsis would give me an indication that I was going to spend my meager money on something that I would really enjoy, carefully calculating the day I was renting and what color I was choosing to know exactly when my rent is due, and feeling my pocket to verify that I had my credential of the place, thin and badly laminated, so that they would let me pay and leave with the precious booty of a movie.

I felt old. Not that much. But enough to feel the word with the capital N. But I don’t like being a victim of those sentimentalities, I reject it, and I look for reasons, reasons, to compete with the N. And “commitment” is the first thing that jumps into my lizard brain.

Before, you had to commit to making the trip to the Blockbuster, to know, to choose, to return. Before, you had to commit to choosing an album, to playing it carefully, to listening to it continuously until you got where you wanted, to preferring only one artist at a time. But should we then stop? Should we leave everything as it was? Maybe we would continue riding on horseback, sending each other handwritten letters or falling victim to a fever at the age of 28. I refuse. We must keep moving forward, everything that has happened had to mean something for everything that is to come, or at least that is what I fervently wish. But it is a trap. Because today you don’t have to commit to choosing a film, you can watch 2 or 5 or 20 minutes of the one you want, stop it or watch it 100 times, watch it at home or on public transport or repeat it 5 days later because you didn’t pay attention to it.

Today you can choose 50 songs, playing 10 seconds of each one and of different artists to finally think that “there is nothing to listen to” and go to sleep. Today you don’t need to commit even to yourself. So every day it is more difficult, I think, for society to incubate minds willing to push the human race, because why push it if everything is instantaneous, although at the same time it is now more possible than ever that we all push it together with so much instant knowledge. It is an infinite cycle. Or not.

I relax and try to focus on what follows, although now with the doubt about whether it is “better” to deal with the new generations or with the old ones, with those who do not want to push out of laziness or with those who have stopped pushing out of desolation, and unfortunately they are further away from each other than ever, be they clients, partners or collaborators, instead of climbing on each other’s shoulders to reach higher they see themselves as alien species in the same world, without respecting or appreciating each other, although it sounds like that I’m already doddering (and what dodder to say “doddering”).

And the doubt, the question, is rhetorical, I leave it to each reader to resolve, according to what they are willing to compromise, or at least, to compromise in the next hour.

Software Engineer and psychologist, founder and CEO of Inflexion Software.

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