So what’s the cure for isolation?
I hadn’t been in a go-kart since I was in my early teens, so when a local Ford dealer invited me to a track day recently, one of the last at our beloved Stratotech Park, I jumped at the chance for a cure and drove myself there in the big, bad Platinum.
Arriving from downtown Edmonton just 40 minutes of bumper-riding later, I sat down for a brief safety lecture, grabbed the biggest helmet in sight, and plunked down in a kart on the front row.
Out on the track once again, under the crisp prairie sky, all was clear before me. The oily motor thrummed loudly behind my back, my feet took turns prodding the hinged pedals, the steering rack required fought back, and I held on tight, too tight, as gravel pinged off my face shield. The better drivers blasted ahead as I calmly and leisurely found my grounding and soaked in the experience. Never one to rush headlong into kinesthetic endeavours, I wasn’t about to embarrass myself with a spin-out in the first corner. Slowly, it came together.
By the end of our session, I was wide-eyed. My lungs were full of clean, country air and my nervous system was charged with the vibrations of that little four-wheeled machine. It felt incredible.
Then I saw the Mustang.
And suddenly, classic cars made sense to me. They never had before. I’d always thought them too unrefined and dismissed their devotees as nostalgic, mid-life crises sufferers.
But at that moment, the Red Sea of Technology opened up before my eyes, unshrouding the purity of human connection that lay at the sea floor. In that brief glimpse, I saw real relationships – people who talked to one another in person, people who built things together, and people who made time for each other. In short, people who were grounded. All embodied in that Mustang.
Technology has brought us abundance of choice but scarcity of soul. We’re safer but more bored. Busier but lonelier. Richer but less trusting.
Yet we’re still learning. And we’re re-learning. Humanity has always struggled with progress and we’ve always adapted. This is not a new battle. There’s no reason to lose faith.
Hope for our species glimmers brightest in the Sharing Economy. Airbnb, Coursera, and Uber are all wonderful examples of decentralized networks that work on trust and respect.
Technology, as we see, is double-edged. It can pollute our souls with empty friend requests and our bodies with complacency, or it can open our minds to a world of possibility and connect us to our shared humanity.
In the end, technology is only useful if it helps us to share our ideas and build on our collective creativity. Only through sharing, learning, and forging real connections can we prosper.
So I propose a toast:
Special thanks to Freedom Ford for hosting the track day. The F-150 was generously provided by Ford Canada for the purposes of this article.
[Photo credits: author, blu-news.org/Flickr, author]