About the “Benjamin Button syndrome”

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.
I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again".
Letter from Benjamin Button to his daughter

08/11/2021

Ana Forcada

José María Álvarez-Pallete

Chairman & CEO Telefónica S.A.

We were born 97 years ago. Those were other times. We were born so that people could communicate with each other via voice. In those days, technology transformed copper wire into voice and changed people’s lives. It brought people closer and made their lives better.

That was our raison d’être for over 80 years, and we fulfilled our mission.

Nevertheless, the world changed, and a new era began. Everything analogue made way for the digital world.

We all suddenly discovered that we could live in more ways than one, that we could see things from different perspectives, that things could be done differently.

We were thus born again, but in another world. Like Benjamin Button, we were born but with the body of an elderly person. We were children in the sense that we had our lives ahead of us, which remained to be discovered, but whilst there were lives brimming with youth surrounding us, we were born different. We were old, in a world of young people.

To begin with, we were unable to live like the others because our bones, our eyes and our strength were those of an elderly person. We collapsed whenever we tried. People would pity us because it is sad to see a child with the body of an elderly person. We were not agile, illnesses hampered us more than they did others, and it was more difficult for us to learn.

However, they forgot something. We were also born with a backbone that only experience can render, with perspective that can only be gained over the years, with wisdom that self-restraint provides, and with the confidence of one who knows that anything can be achieved.

We therefore set out to change. And, in so doing, we realized that our metabolism was inverted. That our will to change made us younger with each passing day; while others aged, we became increasingly younger.

Our old copper bones were transformed into fibre bones. We replaced our old analogue senses with state-of-the-art technology and, whilst previously there had been some delay in our reactions, latency disappeared. Our mind became more powerful because we were able to expand our memory, our speed of reaction, our ability to think. We complemented our natural ability to think with the world of artificial intelligence. We changed. We changed a great deal.

And today,

Although we are still considered old by some, we actually feel younger with every passing day. We know that, through change, we will be better and more prepared for this new era.

We have the backbone to be able to change without surrendering our experience which tells us that, on some occasions, it is necessary to dedicate time and space to things.

We have enough perspective to realize that if we want to survive for the next 100 years, we must get things right.

We are self-confident thanks to having people in the know who support us in this change. We know that this is a long-distance race, and we need to see how to best tackle it.

We decided that this is not just the age of technology. Technology is already present, and we are going to have as much of it as we could possibly ever want.

It is true that this is another era. A new age where practically everything is unexplored terrain.

Nevertheless, we must not let machines lead the way forward. This is our world; a world of people who will move forward, always guided by values.

We have revolutionized our raison d’être. This can no longer be the same as it was when we were born 97 years ago: Connecting via voice.

Our networks carry much more than gigabytes or Mbps. They carry people’s lives in a new world. Our responsibility, which was already significant, is now immense and, we have therefore changed a great deal and very quickly.

We want to make our world more human by connecting people’s lives. That is our mission, and we work tirelessly every day to accomplish this.  It is hard to change, immensely difficult and very challenging, but the goal that lies ahead makes it well worthwhile, the journey is exciting, and we have wonderful travel companions.

We have no guarantees that we will survive. Nobody’s survival is guaranteed, not even the survival of those who have only been born once.

Nevertheless, beware. We are growing younger every day whilst they are growing a little older. Our lives may soon cross. As happened to Benjamin Button.


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