Today our situation calls to mind the myth of Icarus as much as that of Prometheus. When will the cycle end? Will it be when we finally get the technology right? Or when nature says, ‘Enough’?
What if we actually planned to reduce energy usage significantly while revamping the economy to promote happiness and well-being? Then it would be far easier to replace our remaining energy usage with renewable sources.
A better way to define technology is to acknowledge that it is a global social phenomenon and a moral and political question rather than simply one of engineering.
Far from saving the whales, it was oil that nearly obliterated them, and may yet still do so. The real lessons to be drawn from the history of whaling are more interesting and more complex than the oil salvation narrative.
That we have begun to confuse understanding with outsourced expertise is not a surprise. The apps are merely the latest indicator of our disconnect from the natural world.
So I have decided to do something counterintuitive, and write a blog that I really hope you won’t read, because its intention is that that you might instead use the time you would have spent reading it to close your laptop screen and go and do something else instead.
Human beings are at their worst when they are consumers, locked into the miserable pursuit of satisfaction through the isolation of individual consumption – particularly when that shopping and consuming is done online (and when, as with Instagram, we learn to turn ourselves into commodities). T
So get outside every day. Somewhere. Walk barefoot through a park, collect some wild edibles, do some yoga in your yard, some breathing exercises in the forest, or simply sit under a tree somewhere, whatever you can. This will help heal you, and keep you happy in the unplugged world and tethered to the real world.
The age of Enlightenment ushered in progress and left it anchored in our political and economic consciousness. From that moment on, technology has emerged as the key, unique and universal solution to all of our problems. This, coupled with the unprecedented rate of acceleration we are experiencing in today’s world, means that industrial revolutions are occurring before we’ve even had time to assimilate their characteristics and consequences.
There is a fundamental truth that these prophets of cutting-edge technology are not considering: fossil fuels are running out. It was inevitable that they would. Nothing that could only be created under unique conditions over millions of years can be expected to renew itself during the brief span of the Industrial Revolution.
There are many signs that in our use of electronic technology we’ve reached the point of damage in the physical realm. I contend that we are reaching that point in the intellectual realm, too – when to know something means to be able to type, click, skim, and forget.
Practically every device, piece of software and internet platform not only holds the promise of enhancing the individual’s power but also can be weaponized to undermine it.