Episode 16: The End of an Era
Welcome to Education and Technology Futures, a videocast that highlights interesting trends and connections in the worlds of education, technology, and culture.
In this episode, Rob discusses how spending our time measuring our present experience compared to the past can prevent us from seeing and embracing the exciting opportunities for the next era.
I’ve noticed that, when people reach a certain age, it becomes more likely that they’ll speak in terms of a new innovation marking “the end of an era.”
The impending dominance of electric vehicles?
The end of an automotive era.
The amazing advancements of special effects in film?
The end of the classic film era and, along with it, the end of storytelling and acting.
Streaming media and the cord-cutting generation?
The end of the golden era of television.
The always-connected life with smartphones and social media as centers of gravity?
The end of a tranquil age of peaceful reflection and real connections.
Sometimes people talk about the “end of an era” to express a true personal preference, generally with a modicum of wistful nostalgia. But other times they speak out of fear. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of an inability to adapt. Fear of having to learn one more new thing. Fear of not being able to keep up.
Of course, it’s hard to talk about the end of one era without thinking to some extent about the next one. And should we really lament the passing of one age without anticipating the new and incredible opportunities afforded by the next one?
The challenge is that most of us never think about a particular “era” when we’re actually in it, only when it’s gone. The way things are now is the way they are and, honestly, the way they should be.
But maybe, just maybe, instead of trying to live in the present while simultaneously gazing backward to an era we think we preferred, we could actually cast our vision forward, in earnest expectation of the goodness that’s on its way.
My fear is not about what disruptive changes might come along in the coming decades, but rather about the opportunities we might not take advantage of because we are so busy looking over our shoulders.