At this rate I give Homo sapiens a few hundred years.
That’s a couple dozen generations, or so, before we inevitably cause or own extinction through nuclear war, malevolent AI becoming self-aware or the staggered effects of a global climate emergency.
It’s inevitable, really. Ever since we got sticks it seems we’ve been obsessed with who has the biggest one.
Imperialist Britain was so successful in her exploits because of her state-of-the-art navy.
Similarly, the USSR and USA became overnight superpowers in the aftermath of a the Second World War because they both pursued nuclear weapons and the ballistic missile technology required to deploy them across the world.
Today we’re seeing a similar power struggle, as countries seek to use the internet and social media for exploits that even 15 years ago would require military intervention.
The battleground hasn’t faded into obscurity, but it’s evolved past the physical world.
At any rate, we have to do better than we have been doing. In 2000, the internet was a new and emerging technology to the general population. By 2010, memes were just beginning to pixelate into relevancy.
By 2020, there is hardly an industry or job that has been unaltered by the invention of social media and how interconnected to the digital world the global economy has become.
We are progressing at an exponential rate with regard to how digital technology is transforming our society, and with it we are seeing marked differences in how we interact with each other.
Personal conversations evolved into telephone conversations over the course of a half century which evolved into emails over the course of a decade, which has now evolved into Facetime and Snapchat over a couple of years.
And yet despite the fact access to knowledge for the proletariat is at an all-time high, to the point where you or I have more knowledge at our fingertips than the greatest Pharaoh of Egypt or Kings of Ancient Greece, disinformation is more prevalent than ever before in the modern era.
Despite the fact that our standard of living has increased — not just in Canada but across the globe — division amongst the political spectrum seems to be the highest it has been since the Second World War.
People have better lives than ever yet we seem to be more and more focused on tearing each other down as each day passes.
I just find it to be such an interesting paradox that as our capacity to create and invent increases we seemingly increase the inevitability of our own collective demise as a species; you would think things like the internet would ensure our survival, not our doom.
We have to come together.
Take the environment. I believe in man-made climate change. I also believe the industrial shift required to address man-made climate change will cause economic woes that make the Great Depression look like life on a government stipend.
Of course, the alternative of doing nothing (so, in other words, what we’re doing now) is just as asinine.
Neither of the above scenarios is something a rational human would want. That’s my point: we have to collaborate. We have to have these tough conversations and acknowledge neither side is completely right.
I’ll be honest: I used to get satisfaction out of the anger of the people who (at the time) I considered to be my political “opponents.” The whole liberals trolling conservatives or vice versa to get a reaction.
I used to be that guy. I think a lot of us did, or still are. However now I don’t look at things as such a false dichotomy. It’s not that “you’re either with me or you’re against me” but rather “OK, this is how I see x and this is how you see y — can we find a common goal in z?”
Climate change, gun control, nuclear disarmament, mandatory vaccinations, religious extremism, unchecked migration: these are just some of the tough issues we face as a society — nay, as an Earth — and if we don’t figure out a way to come together and find common ground it is likely that one or some combination will lead to our demise.
T.S. Eliot famously characterized the world as ending “not with a bang but a whimper” in his 1925 poem “The Hollow Men.”
If that’s correct, who says we can’t renew ourselves with a handshake?