A Thursday ? No, This Is Water ! #edcmooc


fishbowlAs I watched this video, for a moment I could not but help recalling the opening scene of another video that I had watched just a few days ago. The video was based on David Foster Wallace’s famous 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address speech, and opens with this short story on fishes. Here are some excerpts from this famous speech:

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

If at this moment, you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude — but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense.”

This is where the similarity of “Thursday” to the “This Is Water” video ends. That video goes on to talk about being compassionate and accommodating of others, so I will not attempt to draw any more parallels there.

HOWEVER, the opening story of the fish is equally relevant even to this video. To me, this video is a depiction of our lives within the technological “fishbowl” wherein, we get so immersed in our day-in-day-out routines that we forget that “this is water” that we are living in. And this also means a disconnect with nature and all that it has to offer. But then, when nature (the bird) disrupts our technological existence (the pulling out of the wire), we get completely thrown out of gear.

We fail to take time off “to smell the roses”, and yet we are willing to travel to space to look at the stars ! Our dependence on technology is also frightening in a way. I think each one of us has “agency” when it comes to responsible use of technology. First off, we need to be able to control our obsession and dependence on technology. It’s all a matter of making conscious choices. Do we make responsible use of technology, or do we allow ourselves to be totally dependent on it ? Are we replacing our real inter-personal relationships with virtual ones ? Are the trade-offs worth it ?