Tuesday 6 November 2007

Quality VS quantity

Just a decade ago farming used to be all about producing the best crop. Now it is about the most crop. It is all about the numbers. That is what this era represents to me – numbers. In the previous decade the world clearly shifted from quality to quantity as we saw the commoditization of everything that used to be sacred. From clothing, to sports cars, to cocktails, to dance music, to perfumes, to food, to travel, to entertainment, to high fashion magazines. You name it.
Last time I wrote about cellphones and email. I said they were efficient but not effective when it comes to romance, and building relationships. Cellphones and e-mail are all about quantity. You can e-mail hundreds and thousands of people all at once. But it is meaningless. You can’t outsource purpose, passion and love to some cold keystrokes. Real conviction comes from face-to-face communications. You can’t lead via remote control. You have to be hands on. There is very little quality of communications in this new age of digital diversity.

The digital world is unromantic. It is all about quantity – the digits – yes, digital is all about numbers. Everything was assigned a number in the 90s. The stand-up comic Chris Forrest reminds us that even food bares a number. He said when he goes into MacDonalds he always orders a number one. But last time he swore it looked more like a number two. And MacDonalds is still counting; 100 billion served – yes, it is all about numbers to them. Quantitative existence is the name of this game. And qualitative life takes a back seat while this is going on. The American dream used to be about putting bread on the table. Now it is all about getting a bigger table. That is what the movie American Beauty so magnificently illustrated to the world. But no, instead of embarrassing America, instead of our Western friends doing something about their dysfunction, they would rather give their work of art the Oscar award. They celebrate their great movie, and they move on to the next thing they can commoditize. Weird world we live in.

I remember going overseas when I was a teenager. I remember how all the passengers clapped when the plane touched down in New York. These days no one claps any more. There is nothing sacred about air travel any more. It is like catching a bus. And let me tell you, I would rather be traveling relaxed with peace of mind at the back of the plane then be up in first class with the world on my shoulders. Yes, economy-class may be uncomfortable but it is only for 8 hours or so. I would hate to carry the world on my shoulders the whole year round. Take a look at these late 20 to early 30 stressed out yuppies that travel in business and first class. As soon as the plane lands their cellphone goes on, and their stress levels peak. These guys sure are trapped by the intriguing paradox of progress. They are living quantitative lives. Quality of life is a mystery in this day and age. The progress paradox reminds us that with medical technology, for example, we have added years to life but not life to years.

I remember when fashion had pretentious names and it came from Italy and France. And now we have the American flag as a fashion statement. I remember when TV had huge audiences that were engrossed with shows like Dallas. And now we have reality TV, where scripts and been replaced with humiliating the guy next door. I remember when casinos used to be classy places to go to. People used to dress up and make a night of it. But the days of putting on a dinner suite and going out for an evening of sophisticated entertainment are over. These days casinos are everywhere and they will take your money whether you are in shorts or wearing beach slops. I remember when a camera made clicking sounds and then you waited with excitement to see how your pictures came out after dropping them at the photo lab. And now it is digital camera, without a clicking sound, and there is no excitement of getting back prints. The digital world and this era of quantitative commoditization is all about instant gratification. I remember when people used to write letters. Now they send e-mail. There is no romance. No mystery. No intrigue. Everything is rushed. Everything is the same. Everything is mediocre.

Throw away your watch. And get a compass. A watch is all about numbers. A compass is all about direction. If you know where you are going then it doesn’t matter about numbers. If you have direction then it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there. Because we always need to remember that life is a journey. And the quality of the journey is what inspires and excites. Life is about relationships, not schedules. And relationships are what bring quality to one’s life. This is one thing we cannot commoditize. Wise people will always tell you how they would rather have a few good friends than dozens of acquaintances. This is what the fundamentals are all about. Don’t get me wrong. Technology and progress have their place in the world. I am just trying to say that technology is not effective when it comes to romance, relationship building and the quality of live. All this information and all this technology should be revolving around us, not the other way around. We must control progress, not be controlled by it. Tolstoy said it best, "The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life."

Posted by Ronnie Apteker


Unknown said...

Thank you for the post! I loved your article for several reasons but mainly because I, too, "remember when".

I spent the past five years "unplugged" from the rat race. I simply walked through following messages from my Spirit (and not my Ego). What an amazing journey of discovery...about myself and the wonderful people I interviewed.

So, in short, kudos for reminding us to live a quality life! Keep spreading the word.

If you ever have a chance, I'd love for you to share your 'meaning of life' answer with me. Just "Contact" me: www.noexpertsneeded.com

All the best,
Louise Lewis
Author, No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You!