Monday, October 6, 2014

The future is scary

The future is a scary place for most people.  Maybe you are scared of climate change induced cataclysm, the end of civilization due to the laziness and indolence of this latest generation, or perhaps you simply think that the rapture is due any time now.  What so amuses me is that even though there are plenty of things to be concerned about that are entirely real we persist in making up all kinds of absurd 'threats' that are going to wreck everything.  As though the worries of the world aren't enough people desperately hunt for new and imaginary ones to freak out about.  I got linked to a silly piece on ranting about how nerds are creating a terrible dystopia on the back of Google Glass and soylent (a food replacement sludge that claims to provide complete nutrition with no thought or prep time).

I cannot help but giggle when hearing people go off about how terrible things are going to get strictly based on the assumption that society peaked at a point that is super convenient for them personally.  Some very common examples:

-The English language was perfect right about when I was three years old and learning the rules, don't you see.  All these modern changes are corrupting the one pure form of the language.

-Technology needs to stop right here right now so I, a writer who publishes on the bloody internet, can avoid having to absorb something new like Google Glass.  Can't you all tell that the technology I am familiar with right now is sensible and new things are terrifying?

-Culture ought to be the same way it was when I was a teenager.  Just slightly different from my parent's generation so that I can feel like we fixed things, but then it needs to stop changing!  These new ideas are weird and I am pretty sure we had it all right when I turned 20.

The post on on The Guardian is particularly silly because it talks about how nerds are creating this terrible world by optimizing all of our shared human experiences out of existence and nobody wants that.  A hint:  If people are selling labour saving devices like hotcakes and making a fortune doing it then people do, in fact, want it.  The world is desperate for Google Glass and they are going to pay gazillions of dollars to own them and use them.  This is no different from people crying foul over the printing press (it will ruin people's minds because they won't need to memorize everything!), smartphones (it will ruin people's lives because they will have the option to be connected at all times!), or even cars (aren't horses good enough for you?).

If you are very worried about a change because it upends your idea of how things should be you should immediately check and see if your idea of when things were perfect makes you and your education about the world seem infallible.  Did school work correctly just when you happened to be in school and now everything is awful?  If so, you had best consider just how likely it is that you are biased to the point of uselessness on the topic.  Sometimes you are going to be right and things are getting worse but the broad sweep of history tells us that every generation thought things were going down the tubes and they have been so, so wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment