FeaturesAlex Farnham's Soapbox

Alex Farnham’s Soapbox

So this month’s theme is DEVELOP. Cool. I guess you can look at that in a number of different ways – the first thing that came into my head was a caterpillar building a cocoon and turning into a butterfly, which then got me thinking about the butterfly effect, and how poetic an idea it is… but then I got sad because I doubt a sweet little caterpillar has any idea that by turning into a beautiful butterfly he’s running a pretty serious risk of causing a tsunami on the other side of the world.
That’s too much responsibility for a mini-beast to handle.

It also got me thinking of the word ‘develop’, and the different meanings it has. If you’re over 30 or a ridiculous hipster, you’ll remember having to get film developed. I guess develop is a pretty interesting choice of word for the process – it implies that it starts as something lesser before enhancing into something better. I suppose that’s because of the negatives being turned into… well… positives? Is that what they’re called? I don’t know, I’m not a photographist.

I do like that idea though, to turn from something lesser to something better. I feel like that’s what we all aim for. The interesting thing for me is that there’s never really a specific ‘better’ that we all aim for and eventually reach. The ‘better’ that we aim to develop into is always something in the distance. It’s pretty imperative to our existence that we always strive to improve.
Imagine if cave-men invented the wheel and were just like ‘Oh, nice one. Bye’, and then just stopped inventing stuff. After a quick Google search and some wiki-surfing, I have learned a bit about a guy called Charles Holland Duell, who famously said that everything that can be invented has been invented. That was in the 1800s. I know – what a dickhead. Maybe he tweeted about it on his iPhone 6s whilst drinking a Nespresso coffee and watching Netflix on his smart TV? Or maybe he was just lazy and wasn’t in the mood to talk about the development of society that day. Now apparently the authenticity of this quote is questionable, but I’m fairly sure that’s because of how embarrassing a statement it is. I still find it weird that in my eight years of adulthood, I have seen the invention of the smart phone, the development of fibre-optic broadband… oh, and by the way, we landed a sodding selfie-taking robot on Mars! When I first started listening to music, I would go to Woolworths and buy cassettes, but now, in 2015, the year that Marty and Doc came back to the future, I get laughed at for having CDs in my car. It’s all about streaming now apparently.

It is a little scary how the rate of development is increasing. I’m fairly sure that when I’m an old man I’m going to be Skyping my grandchildren from my retirement home on Mars. Maybe… I guess I’m not sure whether it’s worth the commute (then again teleportation will probably be a thing by then anyway). One thing that does make me sad though is that I know I’ll never discover the secret to time travel, because if I did the first thing I’d do is come back in time to now as I write this and tell myself the secret to time travel, which I haven’t done, so whatever.

I do think development is a scary and increasingly important concept, and in answer to Mr Duell’s ridiculous comment – I don’t think we’ll ever be done inventing and discovering, both as a species and as individuals. I feel like I develop in new ways every day, and not just in terms of weight-gain. I’ve been with my girlfriend nearly five years, and I still learn new things about her every day. The other day I opened her laptop and saw a virtual cat simulator. When she saw my bemused face she told me ‘not to worry, he’s nice. His name is Rob’. Now, we have two real life cats, but apparently she finds it more fun to create fake digital pixelated ones to feed and clean up after. That woman will always remain a mystery to me.

I realise these articles are starting to sound like one of those ‘summing the theme up’ monologues from Scrubs, but I do want to say that it’s important for us to never stop developing – even if it’s just us finding new ways to be happy – and no, that doesn’t mean have sex in a cupboard or something. What it really means is that you should cocoon yourself in happiness and become a beautiful butterfly of self-development. Oh God. I think I was just sick in my mouth a little. That sounds like it should be on a Facebook post written in Comic Sans with a picture of a Minion next to it. I don’t even know what I mean by it – maybe something along the lines of ‘always strive to be better than lesser’…. Or, you know what, better yet do whatever you want; I’m not your boss.

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