I’d like to think the human species has evolved. Then I remember the Jerry Springer show. On the other hand, ancient Romans’ idea of entertainment was to throw people to lions. So maybe we’ve improved a little. (I wonder if the crowds watching this spectator sport scarfed down an ancient equivalent of hot buttered popcorn.)
Surely, technology’s giving independent thinkers an easy platform online made me hopeful. Then I realized that people in power no longer have to assassinate the likes of Gandhi or MLK Jr. Digital noise drowns their messages! If anyone thinks me insensitive, I’m pointing out something horrific society is insensitive to: Powers-that-be no longer have to bother to murder someone whose life-changing ideas threaten dominant structures! Silencing and censorship by sheer din is an old trick we have not grown past. I suspect digital noise was nurtured to smother any truths spoken.
But maybe that was not needed, maybe instead of evolving, we’ve devolved. Look at the online attention given to tripe. Try an experiment: Post the most syrupy cliché you can create. For example, a pic of a kitten with these words under it: “I may be small, but you gotta love me.” (I’m embarrassed to have made that up.) I’ll bet it gets 1000s times more likes and re-tweets than a Nobel Prize winner’s site.
Wait, the ease with which anyone can have a website is good sign. I get to have a voice! On the other hand, I might be presumptuous to assume I add anything except more digital noise.
On the “Yes, the web shows human evolution” side of the argument: I can order Netflix movies online…Maybe that is less proof of evolution and more proof that I only care about me. Hmm.
Ah, here’s a true goody: the internet nurtures independence for crips; despite being a shut-in, I can have a store because it is online.
Okay, this is getting long for online reading, but there’s virtue in an occasional rant. Moving on, our overall use of social media does not bode well. We could have used it to engage in thoughtful dialog open to all. Think global town meeting. Instead, we’ve re-created—and augmented!—ol’ fashion mob mentality. Think Salem’s witchcraft trials gone viral—knee-jerk accusations ruining lives, mass hysteria driving decisions, slanderous gossip masquerading as high moral ground.
I could argue that social media’s contribution to political activism is amazing. But exceptions that prove the rule existed even in Neanderthal times. When other guys were clubbing women on the head and dragging them to caves, there probably was one fellow painting cave walls to lure a female to his abode.
Social media could be a chance to leave mind-numbing television and its corporate messages. Instead, we use social media for the same escapism and big-business ads. I do this myself, sigh, drug myself by traveling online until I’m numb and dumb.
Social media is an oxymoron, emphasis on moron. Does anyone who follows the tweets of celebrities who don’t follow back understand the “social” in “social media?” Celebrities post identical jokes and recommendations for the same pieces of jewelry. Clearly there’s a company writing their tweets. I’m not saying they’re wrong to do this. They’re busy folks. My point is, we had a choice, and these are the uses we’ve made of technological progress.
I cannot stop my rant, my inner debate. Please hang in for some last points: Democracy might be a sign of evolution. But when America’s European settlers freed themselves from England, all they did was get rid of the word “royalty.” We still have rulers, people wealthy to the point of royal insanity whose carelessness of the general populace is just as insane.
While poor and a lot of middle class cannot afford healthcare, American royalty have enough expendable income to spend thousands and thousands to go into space for a purely recreational trip. The brutal disparity between the haves and have-nots continues unchecked. And if this is our use of tech, have we changed since the caveman?
But I need hope. Maybe the only thing that matters is hope for—and belief in —humanity’s potential.
My belief in human’s ability to evolve spiritually as individuals and as a society is enormous. That is why I’ve devoted my life to being a spiritual guide for over a quarter of a century.
I want to think we’ve improved. I want to believe that all the hard work of Buddha and Jesus and other spiritual greats, that all the dedication of scientists, that all the prayers, chants, and sacrifices of mothers, fathers, and soldiers, that all the courage of risktakers like Martin Luther King Jr, that all the visions of mystics, poets, and painters have helped the human species become better as a whole. I guess it is up to me, to be better, do better, make better choices. And up to each of us.
And finally, my inarguable proof of improvement is hot buttered popcorn. So I refuse to research whether it is a new invention or existed since Romans. Onward!
More rants are in Share My Insanity, available on Amazon. The book challenges many hurtful ideas accepted even in the alternative community. We can evolve, but not without admitting our individual and collective faults.
I rather have the opinion that the human race has “devolved” over the millenia since the days of the cave man. It may be that Mr. Caveman clouted Ms. Cavewoman on the head as a part of a nuptial ceremony, but I gather that something other than the threat of a repeated blow kept Mrs. Caveman with her new spouse. Cavewomen were probably tougher than cavemen, as the maternity wards in those days lacked central heating. In any event, cavepeople always had the option of a solitary life in the distant past, so any society in those days was by voluntary consent. As the world’s population rose, the “degrees of freedom” available to the individual decreased. In the modern world, technology has indeed granted mankind great collective power with (not over) nature, but not an individual’s power (outside this collective) over the quality of his life. Meanwhile, owing to the fact that more than seven billion souls share this tiny world with him, said individual has no choice but to live in this “global village”, and if he should choose to better his circumstances, it can only be by aquiring power (via the collective) over (not with) his fellows. This situation selects people who are content with these circumstances, and excel at the imposition of authority. As such people distance themselves from real problems and threats, as opposed to the average caveman, who would not, I would regard such a change “devolution”. (Sorry about _my_ rant).
Heh, I love a good rant! Thanks bunches!
Your writing made me think of the graphic rendition of the intro from Amusing Ourselves to Death which you can find here: http://www.prosebeforehos.com/image-of-the-day/08/24/huxley-vs-orwell-infinite-distraction-or-government-oppression/
Not sure how to make it a link, sorry.
OMG, Heidi, that is so what I am trying to say. Thank you. I am not only glad to see that piece, but happy to know you got what I was trying to say. Yay, I made sense (one never knows)! Hey, happy to meet you, thanks for dropping by, come again!
I definitely hear and agree with much of your frustration here. Sometimes everyone needs a good rant! It is hard sometimes living in this modern world. Some days, when I feel like you do in this post, I want to just turn of my electricity and simplify things, but if I did that, I would cut myself off from friends and family that live in faraway places. It is important to find balance with social media and not allow it to take over your life. It is a good and important tool in this global world, but it does have a way of taking over life sometimes!
Thanks! Yeah, my rant definitely only shows one side of how I feel, another day I think social media rocks. Mind you, I am not reneging on my above thoughts, I stand by them, but life is complex, not one-sided.