This post is the second installment in a three part series that began with my previous article entitled, “The Lost Art of Listening” and concludes with an upcoming article entitled “The Lost Art of Loving.”
There’s a famous story by Ray Bradbury about a children’s playroom in the future. Published in 1950, “The Veldt” is about a virtual reality room in modern homes in which children choose to live out their lives rather than joining the real world. Relationships fall apart – in particular the relationships between parent and child – as the children replace their mother and father with the room, which they feel provides all of their needs and desires. Perhaps more than any other work of classic science fiction, including Orwell’s 1984, this short story is the most prophetic picture of our reality today; not the entire plot, mind you, but the idea of a home that is run entirely by technology and a life that is replaced by a virtual existence of our own choosing. Just as in the story their choice to live their lives in a virtual African veldt rather than in reality leads to dire consequences, so it is in the real world today. Interestingly, “The Veldt” was originally published under the name, “The World The Children Named.”
Before I begin my rant, understand that I’m sort of a technologically minded kind of guy. I’ve worked with IT for most of my life, I use professional software on my Mac to edit music and films, I incorporate technology into our band’s live shows both locally and on tour, I love gadgets and home automation, and I co-founded a social network that never got off the ground before MySpace or Facebook ever existed. I am far from being “anti-technology” but rather I view technology in much the same way I view alcohol: use it responsibly or do not partake.
I was born in 1974. As a child I emulated Evel Knievel, pretending my dirt bike was a red, white, and blue Harley Davidson. I jumped my bike off of curbs and made homemade ramps out of plywood with my neighborhood friends who lived in the cove behind my house. We set off bottle rockets with Star Wars action figures attached to them, rode skateboards, played freeze tag and paper football, listened to rock music, and mainly just hung out. The things that existed for the youth culture in our world were things we did together and in person, and this led to meaningful friendships among us within our group. Take one of the most stereotypical toys of our day, Rock’em Sock’em Robots, for instance. Two kids would come together and each would manipulate a boxer in an attempt to knock the head off of the opponent’s boxer. That was it and yet the game was a generational phenomenon! But truth be told, I don’t remember one single Rock’em Sock’em boxing match with my friends. What I do remember is the banter, the talk, and the hanging out that went on while we had our matches.
I can’t watch Stand By Me (or read the novella from which it is based, The Body by Stephen King) without crying because I intensely relate to that group of boys. As in the movie, there were four of us in my group when I was 12 and each of us corresponded almost exactly to the four 12-year-olds in the film. One of the things that strikes me whenever I watch the movie today is how simple life was then. The activities they did together and the conversations they had were all so real. I did those same things. I had the same conversations. Though the movie takes place a generation before my own, not much changed in the way we hung out when we were pre-teens.
My friends and I came of age and began driving and dating in the late 1980s, a fun time to be alive. We listened to music, cruised around, watched movies, and made plans for our future. It would only be a matter of months before some of those plans came to fruition. After high school, working a full time and part time job while enrolled in college, I gathered a group of friends and made an independent film. We were inspired to do so after spending time watching Jonathan Ross’ independent film series, The Incredibly Strange Film Show. We sold out the premier theatrical showing of that movie on June 4, 1994, and distributed it on video. The movie was horrible – Ed Wood himself would have cringed – but the experience was like nothing else I had ever accomplished. At the same time I started writing songs and playing out in a local rock band. As of this writing, that was roughly 25 years ago and I’ve spent most weekends of my life since then performing on a stage somewhere with a band. I still make independent films with my wife, Char Magnifico, and I still write songs.
To me, one of the worst things imaginable would be to get to the end of my life and discover that I had never truly lived. Yes, there’s an intentional Thoreau reference there. You see, I’m all about avoiding regret. There are no do-overs when it comes to the days of our lives so if you want something, the time to strive for it is now! It sounds cliche, but it’s true… we aren’t getting any younger! Those who know me personally and are acquainted with the “story of my life” – those tragically terrible things that happened in the years between being that happy-go-lucky teenager and the day that I was finally blessed to meet and fall in love with Char – know that I can speak about this subject from a position of experience and authority. Not to bog you down with the details of those dark days, but let’s just say that I should sell my story to a screenwriter – it was that bad. From the time I met Char and things started changing for the better I have kept to a life motto stolen from the lyrics of The Beatles song, “Fixing a Hole,” from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album: I’m taking the time for a number of things that weren’t important yesterday.
So indeed, I’m all about avoiding regret and living life to the fullest. Stop existing and start living! Let nothing stand in your way. You can achieve more than you’d imagine if you stop simply dreaming and start doing! Throw away excuses (I’m too old, too poor, too scared, too whatever) and go after your dreams with definitive action! When I first realized how strong my wife was, I had this very funny and fantastically sexy idea to hold a wrestling match against her. So I did. But being people who live life to the fullest, we weren’t about to do this on a small scale. We had our match… and it was in a professional wrestling ring at the Clear Channel Metroplex during TCW’s Summer Slam event in 2010. It was filmed for a television audience who would watch Char pin me down and win the match. Now we weren’t wrestlers, we weren’t part of the TCW Wrestling organization, and we didn’t even live in the city where the event was held. But we made it happen. We stopped existing and started living. Stopped simply dreaming and started doing. This message seems obvious, doesn’t it? Almost too easy? So why aren’t more people living the dream? Sadly, I have discovered that for many – probably most – of us, we aren’t achieving it because we’re living in The Veldt.
Remember, “The Veldt?” That story I mentioned by Ray Bradbury? Our society has chosen a virtual world just as deadly as The Veldt and while we tell ourselves we are more connected with our modern technology, the end result of this supposed connectivity is more isolation. Relationships have broken down. Communication has ceased. We are driving ourselves mad. We confuse social media friends and followers with meaningful relationships and we’ve replaced loving attention with “likes,” “retweets,” and “shares.” We’ve lost the ability to listen to others because we are preoccupied with self promotion. What if you went into the world’s most extensive library, thirsty for knowledge, but spent your entire time there just telling the people in the library what you already knew about yourself (mixed in with some hyperbole to make yourself appear more interesting than you are). Would you leave any more enlightened than you entered? Would the experience have been worth the trip? Think of the internet as the world’s largest library, full of information. A great multitude of people today are misusing the library in this way and I’m sure they will one day come to regret this decision… should they ever wake from this zombie-like dependence upon social media.
Being a lifelong performing musician, I have noticed something change in the way audiences relate to musicians on stage. When I started performing professionally in the 1990s, audiences were captivated by us. To those who enjoyed listening to music but couldn’t play an instrument, we were like disheveled superheroes as we wielded our guitars and played the tunes that transformed a generation. The fans were transfixed by the music, the shows, and the message. With the advent of the smartphone in the early 2000s, however, we all noticed a drastic change. People slowly began to stop paying attention to the music and the musicians and they began to spend more time looking down at their devices. Today, I’d suggest that at least half of any audience is checking messages, replying to texts, posting social media updates or comments, uploading photos and videos to Facebook or Instagram, or otherwise not paying attention. Throughout the show, people are hooked on social media, checking for updates and texts. When we play one of their favorite songs and have a light show on stage to correspond to the music, they stop being distracted by social media and they start to look at us through the digital display of their phone as they record the moment. But in doing so, they miss it entirely. They are so busy capturing the song on video that they lose the experience of seeing us live. Instead, they are basically watching us on TV while they are in the same room with us! And you know when you replay a phone video of any live concert, it never carries the same sound, emotion, visuals, and passion that is experienced live. I still remember details of many concerts I attended growing up in the days before we had smart phones. In my mind’s eye, I can recall Sting on tour after he left The Police, KISS reunited with their original members and back in the makeup, Black Sabbath getting back together with Ozzy Osbourne, Page and Plant sharing a stage after Led Zeppelin, and Cheap Trick bringing down the house with their rocking live show. These memories are embedded in my mind and I still remember vivid details of these performances because when I was there, I was really there… in the moment! I wasn’t busy trying to share videos on Facebook Live, I was capturing the experience with the greatest multifunctioning camera that has ever been devised: my five senses.
I spoke briefly about what I have observed from performing on stage but we have all observed things like this in our day to day lives as smart devices and social media have encroached upon us. Char and I go out to eat and we notice people on dates sitting across from each other, both glued to their cell phones. Whether they are checking the latest headlines, getting final scores and updates from the game, messaging friends, checking stocks and weather, or scrolling through social media feeds, they are simply not in the moment. These couples hardly look at each other and hold almost no conversation whatsoever. We see phone screens light up in movie theaters as people carry on with their addiction. And in the home, husbands and wives spend hours and hours living in, well, their own individual Veldts. Not to mention the children. Go to the park and you’ll find most people staring down at their screens. People can’t drive to the corner grocery store without texting their friends or scanning their feeds. I’ve seen parents glued to their phones while supposedly watching their children’s performances at school plays and recitals while the younger siblings can’t watch them perform, either – instead, they are glued to portable game systems of their own. We start them on this drug so very young, don’t we? Even on vacations, people can’t seem to pull away from their devices and social media. Any interruption from screen time is seen as an inconvenience in our culture. I’ve been to some truly breathtaking natural wonders and found people not looking at the nature but rather their devices: children playing their games rather than playing in a waterfall, adults scrolling through their feeds rather than gazing at a majestic canyon.
I remember what it was like being a junior high and high schooler. We were a generation who knew how to hang out together. When we wanted to make plans we talked to each other – in person or on the phone (it was a landline telephone in those days, and a cordless one if we were lucky). We made those plans and then we hooked up. And speaking of phones, we often talked on them until the witching hour with all the girls and boys we had crushes on. Actual conversation, mind you. Not text messages, not posting a supposedly funny meme to their Facebook wall – no, we didn’t have those things. We just talked. And in doing so, we had one-on-one, uninterrupted conversations and gave each other undivided attention. Thus, we got to know each other.
Today, it seems that people – young people especially but I see older people doing this too – just text each other and use social media to converse. They use shorthand, acronyms, and abbreviations and each participant in one of these “dialogs” seems to be having a competition to see who can say something with as few words as possible. Today, teenagers confuse “hanging out” with playing multiplayer online games in the privacy of their own shared Veldt. The end result of this is an impatient generation that grows to enter the job market and future relationships with little or no communication or listening skills and a need for instant gratification. Not to mention a selfish world view.
Let’s use the correct terminology. As a generation, we are addicted to our devices and to social media. Who remembers busy signals? When I was growing up, if I was on the phone and someone else tried to call our home, they would receive a busy signal. Sorry, call back later. Remember our brothers and sisters storming into our rooms and shouting things like, “Hurry up and get off the phone, I’m supposed to be getting a call right now.” Truly, those days taught us how to share and be less selfish. Today, every child – even as young as elementary school – seems to have their own cell phone which is hardly ever even used as a phone but rather a multimedia and gaming system complete with connectivity to all of their favorite social networks. Parents don’t take their children anywhere without their personal game systems or phones because – God forbid – the children might get bored. We have video players in our cars and game systems in our pockets. But all the time, I’m reminded of the lyrics to a Roger Waters song… “Amused to Death.”
We did as we were told
We bought and sold
It was the greatest show on earth
But then it was over
We oohed and aahed
We drove our racing cars
We ate our last few jars of caviar
And somewhere out there in the stars
A keen-eyed look-out
Spied a flickering light
Our last hurrah
And when they found our shadows
Glued ’round the TV sets
They ran down every lead
They repeated every test
They checked out all the data on their lists
And then the alien anthropologists
Admitted they were still perplexed
But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise
They logged the only explanation left
This species has amused itself to death.
Here are some statistics I’ve come across that paint a bleak picture of our culture. These numbers represent 2015 research and the facts have only become worse – far worse – in the years since then. It’s hard to believe but research shows that the average American adult spends a full 23 hours a week texting and 11 hours a day on digital media (see http://experience.usatoday.com/weekend/story/lifestyle/2014/07/10/michael-wolff-how-media-usage-is-taking-over-our-lives/12487581/). 95% of American teenagers have constant access to multiple online devices; only 1% have no devices and 4% have only one device. 73% of American teens own a smartphone (by race, 85% of black teenagers have one, 71% of white teenagers have one, and 71% of Hispanic teenagers have one). Only 15% of American teens have a basic cell phone (non smartphone) and only 12% have none at all. 24% of US teens admit to being online constantly or almost constantly whenever awake while 56% are on for much or most of the day. All this gives a total of 80% of our teenagers being connected for most or all of their waking time. Nearly 50% of teens regularly use video chat and almost all use social media. (see http://heidicohen.com/2015-us-teen-social-media-use/). When you factor in time spent in daily hygiene, eating, sleeping, and school, it becomes clear that almost the entirety of the average teen’s day outside of these necessary engagements is spent online. And before you think this is about teenagers, I can show you adult statistics that reflect a picture that is just as bad. Is there any wonder we have a youth culture with a sedentary lifestyle? Is it any wonder that adults are in no better shape in terms of movement and exercise, either?
This lack of real world exploration and experience translates to a generation that is incapable of becoming functioning adults. With this, we fall prey to being controlled by the powers that be rather than really living freely and doing passionately. Seizing this opportunity to control and then monetize that control, marketers sell to teenagers as if they were still youths, young adults as if they were preteens, and adults as if they were teenagers. Is it any wonder that people are being considered “children” for far longer expanses of time than once was the norm? Our generation has the oldest “children” the world has ever known! Dr. Joe Allen and Dr. Claudia Worrell Allen have written in their book, Escaping the Endless Adolescence, that by keeping teens from adult-like work, adult social relationships, and adult consequences, we have stunted their development, making it harder or perhaps impossible for them to grow up “on time.” (http://www.newsweek.com/why-teenagers-are-growing-so-slowly-today-223390)
When I see so many people around me constantly playing the same games on their phones, addicted to their social media feeds, and living lives on a screen or device rather than experiencing the real world, I feel like I’m on a different planet from that which I was born. Or, more frightening if you remember the reference, like I’m in the living in the Matrix. It occurs to me that this is why we seem so willing to elect politicians who continually place more control and regulation over our daily lives, removing our basic freedoms. Note that I didn’t say that they are doing this to us against our will… I said that we are voting for this infringement and disenfranchisement ourselves!
Living our lives in The Veldt has had serious consequences on our ability to have relationships – or even desire them! If you’ve been following the latest news headlines concerning sexuality, you’re probably aware of a growing trend toward human-robotic sexual orientation. Just as we have exchanged actually going outside for looking at a picture of nature on Facebook and exchanged in-person interaction with impersonal communications via text, status updates, and social media comments, we have now begun to replace sex with virtual relationships. In large numbers, people are beginning to desire life-like sex robots over real-life romantic partners and engineers are starting to deliver on this demand. These are not just blow up dolls, mind you. These robots not only look and feel like humans but can learn your behavior and respond to your verbal and nonverbal communication, play into your fantasies, never get soft, never say no, build you up with encouraging words, etc. At the Second International Congress on Love And Sex With Robots, it was touted that robots will be our sex partners of choice in just a few years – and will be granted marriage licenses in much of the Western world by 2050 at the latest. At the Congress, robotic sex expert Dr. Trudy Barber promoted robotic love, saying, “It could be that we become so busy with our lives, robots would fill in the gaps that our partners can’t meet or our lifestyle prevents.” While all this sounds like science fiction to someone who hasn’t been following the news headlines recently, it is happening right now. In addition to sex robots that people are beginning to keep as marriage partners, there is a growing excitement in our culture around new virtual reality glasses and headsets. Guys, imagine a world where you stick little electrodes or sensory devices on various erogenous zones of your body. Slip on your headset and you’re suddenly transported – literally in your mind – to a secluded island. Another female “player” links up to the game and her image is whatever your fantasy wants to visualize – not the actual player herself. You can “touch” each other and through those sensory devices it will be felt. All of this reminds me of an old Sting song…
Well in a hundred years from now
They will attempt to tell us how
A scientific means to bliss
Will supercede the human kiss
A sub atomic chain
Will maybe galvanize your brain
A biochemic trance
Will eliminate romance
The point of this writing is not to examine the emotional, social, and psychological dangers of exchanging real relationship and sexual intercourse with human-robotic love, but rather to merely point out that indeed we are now starting to choose technology over even sex! Given the choice of whatever virtual fantasy my mind could conjure or my real-life bride role playing those same fantasies, I’ll always choose my bride over technology. I’ll always choose flirting over firmware. I’ll always choose her electrifying touch over electrodes. I’ll always choose romance over RAM. There’s something special about the gift of sex. Char will – on her own volition – surprise me with the greatest of teases and treats. I may walk in the house to find her dressed up as Wonder Woman, tossing a lasso around me, and dragging me to the bedroom. And when it’s her choice – her giving herself to me – it’s always infinitely better than whatever I could come up with.
To put it simply, our modern culture with its advanced technology is more connected to more people in more places than ever before. Via Facebook, I interact with more people in a week than I ever did before the social network existed. But in spite of this, we feel less connected and feel like we have fewer real friends. Anxiety and depression have risen drastically and scientific data points to a correlation between those conditions and time spent on social media. In addition to being less connected to genuine relationships, we have lost basic life skills. Research, for one. I remember pouring over microfiche machines to find old newspaper articles while researching for term papers. I recall spending hours with my head in books and encyclopedias at the library to complete a school project. Today, people “Google” a subject, copy and paste what some blogger (like me) or wikipedia contributor writes about it, and calls that research. We believe something is true or false based on whether Snopes has validated it (don’t even get me started on the countless cases where Snopes has been proved wrong and/or biased). And research isn’t the only life skill that is lost. Communication, both written and oral, is pathetic. Our generation had 17 or more years between kindergarten and college graduation practicing how to speak up and sell ourselves. Today’s young adults go to their first career job interviews with scarcely any experience at all in this area.
It’s hard for me to believe that human beings no longer desire experiential arousal and excitement, physical and emotional human relationship, sexual intercourse, etc. It’s hard for me to believe that people would rather sit alone in their rooms, staring at their phone screens, communicating on social media. It’s hard for me to believe that people will get to the end of their lives and say, “Gee Whiz, I sure wish I had spent more time scrolling through those Facebook News Feeds.” Rather, I believe people will get to the end and say, “I wish I had gone to see Yellowstone National Park. I wish I had seen New Zealand. I wish I had gone on a cruise. I wish I had told my wife about those sexual fantasies she could have fulfilled…” But the chains that are keeping us from this life that could be are the chains of addiction. It’s an addiction we must break if we want to choose to live without regret. An alcoholic or drug abuser who recovers from his addiction has the benefit of abandoning drugs and alcohol altogether. But someone suffering from addiction to the vice of devices can not walk away so easily. Most of us have to use these devices in our jobs, for communication, with our children’s schooling, etc. So how do we break these addictions when we can’t walk away from them?
I recommend starting with these steps and with this advice:
- You don’t have to be in constant communication. Our smartphones have a multitude of features and apps but they still have voicemail, too. And just because someone texts you does not mean you have to stop everything you are doing and respond right away. If you’re cooking dinner, for example, and someone texts you with a non-emergency text, don’t reply until after dinner. If you’re driving, it can wait. I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man when I say this, but it’s true… when I was young we didn’t have cell phones or texting. And people didn’t have the convenience of texting or calling you all day long while you were supposed to be at work. They’d call your home phone, leave a message, and you’d call them back when you got home from work. People didn’t bombard you with everything that came across their mind or every cute thing they happened to see. Instead, when they did talk to you in person or over the phone, the conversation would be more meaningful as the parties shared relevant things with each other. Today, when people text you something funny, chances are it’s the same meme that you already saw from 1000 other friends on Facebook. And your response will likely be a form of LOL. But you didn’t laugh – either silently or out loud. The truth is, we’re bombarded with images, memes, links, and things that don’t matter all day long. When’s the last time you had a real personal conversation with that person? Communication: maybe it’s quality, not quantity that counts. One idea is to put your phone up when you get home. Lay it on your nightstand. You can check it a couple times throughout the night. At bedtime, silence everything except for your wake up alarm and ringers from emergency contacts (spouse, children).
- Talk and enjoy food during dinner. There’s no reason to be checking your Facebook messages and News Feed throughout dinner time. If it’s so important to have your Facebook friends intrude your dinner table then go ahead and make extra food and invite them over.
- Stop the debate. You aren’t winning. I have a rule… I scarcely talk politics on social media. In spite of this rule, I have extraordinarily firm and grounded political positions. But my positions are not necessarily those of my Facebook friends. While I can back up my views and enjoy a healthy debate with anyone, social media is a horrible venue for such discussion. I’ve only broken my no-politics rule on Facebook a small handful of times. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve said something political maybe three or four times in nine years. The truth is that no one is interested in changing or listening to your opinion unless they agree with you already. Before social media existed, we didn’t feel the need to go knocking down doors and setting everyone straight when you found out they didn’t agree with your politics. Why do we do that on Facebook? I have very close friends who supported Barak Obama for the presidency. I would frankly rather have voted for a used piece of gum stuck on the bottom of my shoe than vote for him. In my own personal estimation, he was one of the three worst presidents in American history. I believe I can show where his administration directly and negatively affected my pocketbook, cash flow, freedoms, security, and even health care for my family. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But I never bashed Obama on their Facebook walls whenever they’d sing his praises throughout his time in office. It wasn’t the right vehicle for debate. Furthermore, I respect their freedom to be wrong, politically speaking (and in my opinion). And honestly, it almost always turns into a heated argument where once friendly relationships fall apart. When Donald Trump was elected president, some of these people went into online conniption fits, panic attacks, and depression all over social media. I likewise did not gloat on their walls in response to these fits. Doing so certainly wouldn’t win votes for my side of the ideological fence and ultimately would just make me look like an ass… which is ironically Obama’s party logo, not mine. Bottom line… I have many very close friends who voted for candidates that I wouldn’t spit on should they catch on fire. We agree to disagree agreeably. Sometimes, we share our thoughts on the matter in positive, healthy conversation. Offline. And we remain friends. When I see them write things in support of what I believe to be horrible politics, I cringe inwardly but outwardly I just tell them that I love them. Because I really do.
- Stop “friending” everyone. And stop “friending” your friend’s friends. It’s kind of creepy. Isn’t your Facebook News Feed and Notification Center busy enough with the people that you really do know? Why must you “friend” people just because they were drunk with you at the same concert and offered you a joint? Come on, people! These aren’t your friends! They are hardly acquaintances! I don’t need to know their daily status updates just because we sat next to each other at the last Metallica concert. And on this subject, stop “friending” people just because they share your last name or for any other meaningless reason. And here’s a big one. Just because someone commented back to your comment on my post doesn’t mean you need to “friend” them now, either! That’s creepy and makes you look like you have stalker tendencies. That’s kind of like inviting yourself over to dinner with one of my friends that you don’t know just because you saw them pull out of my driveway and they waved at you. Seriously, you’d have a lot less Facebook distractions in life if you cleaned your Friends list a little.
- Enjoy life experiences without your devices. The next time you’re at a movie/concert/nature trail/sporting event/etc., put your phone away and enjoy the experience. Giving in to device distractions only takes you away from the experience at hand. In the days before smartphones, whenever you went to such places, you just simply enjoyed your time there! Now, you spend the whole time checking your phone! You had your phone with you in the time before arriving at this destination or experience. Now it’s time for a new activity…
- Have a game night with your friends. Regularly invite your friends over and play board games, card games, eat junk food, and laugh uncontrollably. Play music on the stereo. One rule: no devices. Re-learn what it means to play a game with friends – and without the distractions of social media.
- Get back to actual activities. Rather than spending so many hours a day texting, scrolling through your social media accounts, etc., actually live before it’s too late. Go somewhere, read a book, get a hobby, do something you’ve never done, learn something new, anything! Really live life – don’t just become a virtual avatar commenting to social media posts. I’m sure you’ve heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. With that in mind, consider that so many these days are living with anxiety, depression, boredom, frustration, etc. Rather than doing the same thing that’s keeping your life right where it is, go live a little. To not do so, well, that’s insane.
I believe this is a good starter list. It’s not comprehensive and no, I’m not a psychologist. I’m just a bass player, a music fanatic, a songwriter, a film enthusiast, a nature lover, a filmmaker, and a guy who grew up fantasizing about Wonder Woman. Let’s see… where is my life today? Well, I play bass professionally, make films, travel deep in to nature frequently, and married a woman who dresses up (and acts like) Wonder Woman. Hmmmm…. I’m right on target for my life list. How are you doing with yours? Could it be social media and your devices – too much screen time – that’s keeping you from checking off your own list? I’ll leave you with some words from a song by Steven Wilson.
If I could find you
And tell you about my life
Or maybe just write
And remind you of when we would dream…
Of where we would be when the future comes
And how you would paint while I wrote my songs
Strange how you never become
The person you see when you’re young
Thanks for this awesome reminder, Steven Wilson. May it never be so. The power to change is within us.