Guest post by Dylan Wray, co-founder and executive director of Shikaya, a non-profit civil society organization that recognizes the crucial role that teachers can play in deepening and strengthening South Africa’s democracy. Since 2003, Dylan has been the project coordinator of Facing the Past – Transforming our Future, a partnership with Facing History and Ourselves that holds educator workshops and seminars throughout South Africa, and provides resources and support to teachers and curriculum advisers across the country.
Playing Face the Future today has made us think about the world in the not too distant future. It has created the space for us to imagine the hope and possibility but also the shadows, warnings and fears.
But reading how people young and old, close and far away, feel about this future, had made me think more deeply about us today. And, perhaps, it is in the Shadow Imagination where I have been most drawn to thinking about today.
Nico, for instance, wonders about the addiction to the validation of others that the technology might bring:
What should this make us feel today? How do we withdraw from the fixes we currently find ourselves drawn to – the Emoji smiles and frowns and thumbs up or down. Is it becoming harder for us today to notice facial expressions, tones of voice and touch – those parts of us that can tell others some of how we feel?
For Angelique, in the shadows of a technology that allows us to feel the emotions of others, lies the threat of us growing up too quickly:
What does social media and our exposure to what hundreds and even thousands of people in our networks are feeling and thinking do to us? Even if we can’t today feel what others are feeling, what impact is it having that we can know what so many people tell us they are feeling? Are we having to already grow up quickly because we are being exposed to so much more?
Many players, like Hammond, have raised the issue of privacy:
We are already sharing so much information with, well … we aren’t always so sure with whom. Sure, no one can feel our emotions and feelings, but going through the data from our Snapchats, Facebook timelines and Whatsapp chats, and a glimpse into our emotions and actions is possible for whoever is looking.
And yet there is hope…
As Annus Mirabillis sees:
Perhaps today, we could do with a little more technology that allows us to connect more intimately, more deeply and in ways that allow us to show more of our true selves. That surely, can’t be such a bad thing. That’s a good thing to imagine.