Lifestyle and Career Disruptions by Technology

We live in an era of unusual disruption of cultures, lives and businesses by technologies. As a little boy, I listened to folklore under the moonlight in my south eastern part of Nigerian village. The elders told the stories of justice, bravery, honor and humanity. There was no cellphone and there was no distraction. Life was under a predictable pattern especially in the evenings when boys and girls will wait in turns to play under the moonlight and receive moral education carefully orchestrated in the stories told by the elders. Every child belongs to the village and parents are nothing but stewards.

As we trekked miles to fetch water and firewood for the family cooking, we enjoyed the songs of the happy birds. We treasured the flowers and the gentle winds out of the thick rainforest of our stream. It was a life of great tranquility and we never had a homicide in the village. By norms and traditions, the fishes in our stream must not be fished. They were preserved and in most cases we played with them.

When it was time for school, we continued on that village tradition of brotherhood. The elders have mapped out lands in the village where people could go and plant fruits so that any villager when hungry could go there and eat. It was forbidden to sell anything from that land because it was designed to be a ‘strategic food reserve’. It worked; I planted an orange tree and my best friend gave the village a coconut tree.

But that was then. Many things have since changed, not just in my village, but around the world. Technology is disrupting all aspects of human existence and our lifestyles have changed. Industries are being demised and new ones are coming up with our lexicons constantly evolving to accommodate new tech-evolutions.

Food has been professionalized and mamas do not need to know how to cook. Technology and globalization have already changed family traditions.

As a boy, I heard of professional typists. These were specially trained pros who could churn out characters on typewriters at amazing speed. There are few of them today. There were shorthand experts; people that could write on special characters in order to capture statements as fast as they are spoken by their employers.

Many of these professions have since gone or are going. Technology is displacing their services. Computers make mastering of typing not a big deal since it does not cost anything to edit and delete when using word processors. Compare that with erasing and changing stencils in a typewriter, you will appreciate the level of innovation that has taken place. A single mistake in page could render the whole document useless; the typist has to start over, especially in quality documents where erasure is not permitted. So the trade was to get people that could type with zero error, and at fast speed.

For those that are shorthand experts, video recorders with translation capability make it unnecessary to be writing when a politician or anyone is talking. Just record and soon print out the transcripts. Those experts are also fading. It is rare to see a journalist job that requires mastering of shorthand as Isaac Pitman invented it.

Have you noticed that the city of London could police the whole city through video cameras when in the old dull days, policemen might have been used? Those traffic policemen we used to see across many African cities are disappearing as most of the cities install traffic light systems. Those jobs or careers are being displayed by technology.

What of language interpreters? I recall a meeting in Kenya where someone was giving a speech in French and the interpreters were interpreting in English, Arabic and Portuguese. It worked out so well. But that career will soon die. If Apple or any of the Smartphone makers develop a good language translator in their gizmos, we may not need the interpreters, at least, in some gatherings.

So, we have got a lot of challenges in career planning these days. Does it make sense to pursue this career considering how technology could change it in the future? How many ticket masters were displaced when airplane ticketing moved online? How can software affect journalism in the future? How is technology affecting parenting since technology is increasingly displacing our attention to our families? Those late night emails and constant trips to the Blackberries at 10pm are all disruptions.

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