Stuck in the Muddle With You
I've been dealing with somewhat of an existential crisis lately. On the one hand we are living in what is undoubtedly the safest and most comfortable era that the human race has ever experienced. On the other, it all seems very chaotic and volatile. It feels like we are simultaneously more connected with and isolated from eachother than ever before. The Internet age is one of anonymous conflict and sensationalism, reductionism and exploitation, bullying and trolling. We live in digital echo chambers and are fed 'fake news' 24 hours a day. Who do we trust? What side are we on?
You need a side after all. Are you left wing or right wing? Vegan or carnivore? Social justice warrior or 'Nazi'? Religious or atheistic? Christian or Muslim? Black or White? It feels like there is a force that is tearing humanity apart, much like Moses did the with Red sea, except we are being split across many more lines.
To add to that we seem to be suffering from a chronic over exposure to content. Videos, pictures, news articles, top 10 lists, guides. We carry it around with us. It shouts at us from our pockets, demanding our attention. We need to read about the latest controversy or trend. Like or dislike. Have our say. Seek outrage. Furthermore, modern software is designed to get us addicted. Apps and websites give us small but regular hits of dopamine - the same chemical that is responsible for the high we feel if drinking alcohol or taking drugs. And just like alcohol and narcotics there is little in the way of real fulfillment to be had.
And that's just our conscious experience. We also face a subconscious daily battle with our capitalist society. Don't get me wrong - I don't see a better alternative to capitalism, but Christ it's draining. The local supermarket has become a psychological battlefield. As soon as you step inside they are playing mind games. The smell of the fresh bread by the entrance draws us in and makes us hungry. The 'essentials' like milk and butter are down the back forcing you to walk through the entire store, past strategically placed special offers and unhealthy foods that are designed, packaged and positioned to entice us into over consumption. Confectionery is placed at the checkout to tug on any bit of resolve we may have left, placed at eye level for a child so that they tug on it some more. Supermarkets use the same tricks that casinos do in order to separate us from our money and keep us coming back.
Where are we headed as society? As a people? What do I do? Why do I do anything? That's what I have been wondering lately. Where is real fulfillment going to come from? The word crisis is thrown around a lot in the mainstream media. Obesity crisis. Health care crisis. Financial crisis. It's one thing after another and if you were to judge solely by the mainstream media the future does not look too bright. But there is light there. While the Internet can be an overwhelmingly negative place it is also a beacon of light. From crowd funded campaigns to help those in need to medical software that can track patients vital signs from their homes, technology's potential for good is undeniable. They say that knowledge is power and we currently have access to more information than any time in history. Revolution can be powered by ideas spread through the Internet and technology can reduce suffering and save lives.
And so that leads to me point of this short post and indeed the blog. I simply want to to chronicle my exploration of some of these issues. Perhaps there are some answers to be found, but more likely there is simply much to be learned. I will be focusing on four topics specifically, though this may change over time. They are:
A pretty wide spectrum there I know, but they are all tightly coupled and I can't imagine that one could explore any single item on that list without needing to branch off into the others.
The goal is to learn more about where we came from, how we got to where we are, where we are going and how we can make the most of the journey.
Take care and thanks for reading,