HEADING FOR THE HILLS
A TELLING VICTORY
It is a communication paradigm to match Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.
I cannot believe I just wrote that, but I have to come to accept it. Humble pie.
I still loathe it in so many ways, not least because it is a killer of conversation, a frequent, grotesque vessel of misinformation and fosterer of vanity and thoughtless brevity. To parrot is not wisdom.
But... In this galloping age of technology, speed, overload and resistance to detail and toil for truth, I accept that mobile devices, our personal thread within the web, are now the ultimate means, whether we like it or not, by which to influence the masses, form opinions, to bring change.
This gadget, one I spurned for a very long time, has, critically, harnessed another pearl of power that grows ever more absorbing and influential in its simple truth - that an instant image, photograph or video, can speak a thousand words.
Just a few years ago a great many people across Europe, and certainly the Disunited Kingdom of my birth, hadn’t the faintest idea Catalonia existed. They do now. Images of riot police in body armour and helmets clubbing unarmed people of all ages, pulling women by their hair, drawing blood with batons, spilled around the globe. Suddenly anyone with a mobile was a reporter, or a watcher.
Now Ukrainian president Volodímir Zelenski and his people are applying this paradigm with critical effect. He knows the power of it and how to apply it. And it is proving a telling victory. The world will never be the same and the void between two generations of statesmen yawns ever wider before our eyes.
How dire and distressing the ever darkening images emanating from Ukraine.
Words alone still have enormous power, even given distortion, the challenge of knowing who or what to believe and the incessant stream of numbing nonsense now coming at us from all directions, much of it irrelevant to - and a distraction from - our lives and immediate sphere of happiness, influence and relationships. There is also the matter of certain online sites providing a platform for soundbite narcissistic nutters, some of whom are beyond the pale.
That is why I resisted carrying a mini computer around in my pocket. There was no escape. I finally succumbed for reasons of my work and family – being able to see and talk to distant loved ones is an invaluable positive, and the competitive world of business requires I pay attention some of the time and try and keep up. There is always the off switch, and the option to leave my mobile on my desk and walk into the forest.
But at this vital moment this connection is defining, every minute, what we have and have not learned and what changes are upon us as a consequence.
The brutal images of death and destruction in Ukraine are thumping into our consciences, indelibly. It is a watershed, politically and also technologically. Ukrainians have been able to photograph and share almost immediately their unthinkable nightmare and suffering through common place palm-of-the-hand tech. It is an immense power for the people. Russian recruits have also resorted to it in their desperation.
Images from mobiles have stirred people around the globe to help, to raise their voices, and such sound can change the course of history. If we survive this desperate chapter, the next, perhaps climate collapse, will bring equal candour, clamour and action.