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The future might actually be back there...

We are all prisoners here of our own device. I was thinking about this line from “Hotel California” the other night along with “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave” when thinking about life before the internet and that strange beast coming after and at you called “social media”.

Seeing a class photo from my days at KGV Secondary School triggered all kinds of memories- my parents, arriving in and life in Hong Kong back then, school friends, music and about how we managed things that came our way. How we had fun and took that journey, whatever it turned out to be, into the future.

There were no mobile phones and we didn’t have Google or Wikipedia as some online school from where learned everything and anything and wondered why we were on Information Overload all the time.

We had only our street smarts and common sense, or none or both to get us through and, as Jim Morrison screamed, break on through to the other side.

As has been said, Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. It can bankrupt many in different ways. It just might be why there’s been such a lowering of standards in the past decade- at least.

A former girlfriend once accused me of being an old fart who was frightened of new technology. Not at all, darling.

When used creatively and without following the herd, every online platform offers the opportunity to stand out from the clutter. But being creative comes with experience and learning from mistakes. There are no shortcuts.

The problem is that we’re often with those not growing up, but actually stunting growth as wherever they’re coming from is the wrong place and without really thinking things through and asking the tough questions of themselves.

Priorities have nothing to do with “views” and “likes” and numbers and algorithms and very little that sees a return on investment. And then there are the silly online games played: Don’t “like” what I post and I won’t “like” your posts back.

For myself and friends, we went from being inspired by the Beatles and Dylan and Joni Mitchell to the creativity of Sesame Street with Jim Henson and the Children’s Television Workshop.

There were the films of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas before graduating to the work of Scorsese, Coppola, Brian DePalma and Tarantino.

The Beatles and the songs of Dylan were always a constant. Still are.

Our kids learned from whatever inspired us- “Jungle Book”, watching reruns of the greatest movies ever made, learning from the stories of Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, reading the journalism of Timothy White, Kurt Loder, Greil Marcus, Cameron Crowe and Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone and Lester Bangs in Crawdaddy.

Most of all, we learned from real life experiences. We took walks on the wild side without even knowing it. We got lost, but found ourselves even if it was in the mists of Avalon.

It wasn’t all lollipops and roses, and many things sucked, but they were all part of a very different type of “home schooling” that happened by not trying too hard to be too clever. We actually didn’t KNOW how to be “TOO clever”.

Today, one often sees a broken down world sharing anything and everything in a way where there’s no exclusivity.

It’s too often an addictive and subjective world full of Gotcha moments and surrounded by too many with no substance and personal agendas driven by a strange mix of jealousy and entitlement.

Maybe it’s having to do with some choosing to live on Facebook or some other online platform and thinking that these hold all the answers.

Maybe it’s losing one’s self in a very different world or parallel universe and also losing one’s religion in the process.

Back then, we met girls in this real world- not some metaverse. Some we dated as there was an emotional attachment.

There were no home delivery food services and many of the girls were hardly Michelin chefs. This meant going out on a dinner date though the choices of restaurants back then in Hong Kong were pretty slim. But when you don’t know any better, everything was more than enough the way it was.

We held hands instead of phones. We found and enjoyed each other’s company without dating apps. We enjoyed our dinners together. We didn’t have to Instagram it for everyone to see. We made love because it felt right.

We fell in love with the girl who mattered most and got married for all the right reasons. It was never ever about money.

For myself and the girl who became my wife, our combined salary of HK$1200 was enough. When this figure reached around HK$1500, it helped us raise our daughter and give her the best we could.

It was a different time in a different world and I wouldn’t trade any of it for, well, the world we find ourselves in today.

Having said this, it’s not something we need to be imprisoned in either.

There’s always a way outta here like the Joker said to the thief.

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