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Back in our day

Millions of years of almost miraculous evolution has created the most intelligent, adventurous and questioning organism ever, but now much of the species spends large chunks of the time, apparently happily, sitting down and soaking up a torrent of mind-numbing 'entertainment' and sensationalised news.

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I like to see myself as quite an expert in procrastination. As I stare at my work, my mind suddenly fills with all sorts of irrelevant questions that I feel I must answer before I start studying; how do hoovers work? What's the English translation of Gangnam Style? How much food do I have left in my cupboard? These are the distractions I have to fight off before I can concentrate on my actual degree. Most questions are answered by a speedy internet search, but sometimes the interruption can carry on for hours. The latest distraction was particularly dominated by one thought experiment; what will people a thousand years into the future make of humanity in the last few decades? After a bit of thought, I decided our world now is interesting, but generally for all the wrong reasons.

The main reaction of future historians would be bewilderment, especially in regards to our economics; in our time, almost every country in the world is dedicated to the task of economic growth, hopefully a phrase those future academics will have to look up. As the scientific community sits exasperatedly in the corner, continuously warning everyone that nearly every living system (including Earth as a whole) is in decline, the rest of humanity has happily taken up the task of endless increase in production and consumption of goods- that is modern capitalism. I'm sure the hypothetical historians will be shaking their heads in disbelief at a global-wide lack of foresight about the utterly unsustainable path we've dedicated ourselves to.

After they've written up about how efficiently the ever-growing global economy caused innumerable ecological catastrophes (global warming, rainforest destruction, and fish stock depletion to name but a few) they'll then probably move onto the culture of the time. A significant chapter in the future book of ancient history might well be named "The Homogenisation of Culture", which would spell out the paradox that although the world's cultures had never interacted and mixed more than before, most are becoming more and more similar. So many societies now are just dominated by the paradigm of endless consumption; the same global brands permeate the cities and towns across the Earth. Almost everywhere you go people are eating the same foods, wearing the same clothes and driving the same cars. The brand logos of the global multinational companies are more widely recognised than most country flags, these firms will be examined in much depth in the future; there are so many products and brands that are so intertwined with our modern lives but we never questioned if we actually needed them, or how they became so big.

Hopefully, a thousand years into the future, in the review of the culture of what we have now, television will be seen as a short-lived peculiarity; it is effectively an insult to human intelligence but on an extremely grand scale. Millions of years of almost miraculous evolution has created the most intelligent, adventurous and questioning organism ever, but now much of the species spends large chunks of the time, apparently happily, sitting down and soaking up a torrent of mind-numbing 'entertainment' and sensationalised news, whilst periodically being told in adverts what new products they need to buy to stay happy.

Unfortunately our hypothetical investigators still have much more incredulity about our world to come. They might look next to the vast sums spent by world governments on military, then compare these sums to the pitiful piles dedicated to science and high culture. Or they might question the massive presence of religion in an age of 'reason', or finally why hundreds of millions live a life drenched in poverty and squalor, at a time when the world is apparently so advanced.

Although there will be plenty to talk about for authors willing to trawl through the archives of our unimaginably busy world, I'd imagine that a lot of the talk will be understandably pessimistic, a disapproving look at a world gleefully skipping along the road of unsustainable growth and economic integration. A world obsessed with factories and jobs, large militaries & education systems that fail to teach their students how to avoid being a procrastinator.


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1 Comment

ambrus Posted on Thursday 1 Oct 2020

well done! the idealist rings through.

of interest: http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.pdf

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