As we all know, times are changing, and rapidly if that. Time, as it seems, continually slips away from us as we become busier and busier and the pace of social change in our society becomes faster and faster. In fact, the pace of social change in our society has become so fast that we cannot mentally keep up with it. Our culture is changing so rapidly that by the time we actually recognize and fully analyze the change, it has already progressed to an entirely different level, leaving us in the dust and wondering where time has gone. David Harvey calls this the “time-space” compression.
“The Information Age” has just gotten a bit more complex. We live in an era where science and technology are everything; they make the clock which we are forever racing to catch up with. Science and technology are the very things that make the knowledge we seek so easily accessible; it’s always at our fingertips. Science aims to continuously explain culture and the human condition. Through the postmodernist perspective, this need to explain is simply what makes us unable to keep up with the change. Instead, we’re constantly feeding off of knowledge always wanting more and more and more. The need to know ‘why’ is precisely what drives the change in our culture.
Science and technology have also skewed our perceptions of boundaries. As industrialization booms worldwide, multi-billion dollar companies are rapidly expanding; at the touch of a button we can instantaneously have contact with someone on the other side of the world. Talk about time and boundary perceptions. We’re losing the concept of not only geographical boundaries as well as cultural boundaries (as if they were really all that solid to begin with). According to postmodernism, this is exactly what is destroying us.
The conditions of postmodernism and the ever-changing concept of time remind me a bit of the show “Attack on Titan.” Attack on Titan (sometimes referred to by the anime-nerd culture as AOT) is a story about a city that is enclosed within walls to protect the citizens from man-eating titans that roam the land outside the walls. The idea is that the walls have protected the people of the city for over 100 years and as such they will continue to protect them from the savages outside. Everyone who lives within these walls seemingly lives with little notice to change with the exception of some individuals. One of those individuals is Eren. Eren continuously says that times are changing and that soon the walls won’t protect them anymore. No one seems to believe him. Eren has the burning desire to join the Survey Corps and strive to fight for knowledge of the outside; to learn how to protect humanity from the man-eating titans. Despite the efforts of Eren’s friends and his mother, Eren’s father gives the best advice, “Human curiosity is not something you can restrain with a lecture.”
“Human curiosity is not something you can restrain with a lecture.” This seems to be the key to understanding the ‘why’ behind not only postmodernism and science, but the continuous speed up of time. Humans are curious. We’re curious about the human condition. We’re endlessly curious as to how we can improve our lives and seemingly add to our longevity, especially in America. But all of this curiosity leads to a never-ending need for knowledge and when we run out of knowledge, we turn to technology to find a way to fulfill the addiction. “The world, in a sense, has become a moving target where knowledge is concerned,” (Moberg 2013: 301). Everything is changing so rapidly that we can’t seem to understand it, thus the never-ending series of ‘why’s. In a sense, we are like the Eren, sensing the change, but never fully understanding it.
2013 Engaging in Anthropological Theory: A Social and Political History. New York: Routledge.