The next evolutionary step.
I was sitting on the PATH train when I think I identified the next evolutionary step. I was minding my own business and staring at people the way blind people do when they realize they can stare at people and people don't think they can see anything. Usually I do this to women with big boobs but this time I was absently staring at a Dad and his teenaged son who were sitting opposite me.
The teenager was playing with a hand-held games console and was disconnected from the outside world by the headphones in his ears. The Dad was on his phone answering emails and typing away furiously. These two people were together but they weren't really together.
It struck me then that I see this everywhere but just don't really pay any attention to it. Actually not only do I see it everywhere, I also DO it everywhere and so does my wife and so does my child. We are also together but not really together as one of us is usually buried into the little screen of some electronic device.
There have been a million articles written on how these things are destroying our attention span and how they are overwhelming us with information so I'm not going to regurgitate any of that, I am more interested in the evolutionary aspect of the phenomenon.
Everyone thinks "evolution" specifically refers to the Ascent of Man and of course it does, but if you'll notice the 4th figure in the Ascent of Man is carrying a spear. Evolution is as much about cultural changes and the tools that cause those cultural changes as it is about the extra vertebra and opposing thumbs.
For example: It is said that early man was lactose intolerant until he learned how to farm cattle and therefore developed the gene that allowed him to drink milk without shooting diarrhea halfway up the cave wall. Based on this it is a fairly safe assumption that loin cloths were not known for their absorbent properties and that early cavemen probably smelled like Charlie Sheen after a week long bender, consequently early man's sense of smell was not nearly as sensitive as ours is today.
It is with these thoughts in mind that I realized that the tools which will help the human race to our next evolutionary step are these little hand held devices.
In 50 generations from now we will communicate via text, email and chatrooms. We will forget how to speak so we will physically evolve in a way where we are born without voice boxes. We will develop languages based around the acronym that would seem alien and gibberish to us if we saw it today.
Our eyes will grow large but our eyesight will grow poor from straining at the little screeens. We will look (and probably move like) those nocturnal sloths that David Attenborough is always chasing through the jungle at very low speeds.
We will go completely deaf due to overuse of headphones and eventually our ears will just seal up and disappear due to lack of use. This will give us an entirely round cranium and we will start to resemble a very large eyed version of Charlie Brown.
We will get fat through lack of exercise to the point where our offspring are just born fat, blind and deaf. On the upside our fingers will grow shorter and move at lightning fast speeds as typing is the only way we can communicate.
In short we will be huge nocturnal eyed blobs with stubby lightning fast fingers, a big round head and no ears!
Personally I can't wait. I'm already halfway there!