Allegedly smart phones don’t do anything to fix the rising spiral of problems besetting industrial civilization, but they make it easier for people to distract themselves from those problems for a little while longer.
That, I’d like to suggest, is also what’s driving the metastasis of television screens in the places that people used to go to enjoy a meal, a beer, or a cup of coffee and each other’s company.
These days, that latter’s too risky; somebody might mention a friend who lost his job and can’t get another one, a spouse who gets sicker with each overpriced prescription the medical industry pushes on her, a kid who didn’t come back from Afghanistan, or the like, and then it’s right back to the reality that everyone’s trying to avoid.
It’s much easier to sit there in silence staring at little colored pictures on a glass screen, from which all such troubles have been excluded. [snip]
That temptation isn’t an abstract thing. It rises out of the raw emotional anguish woven throughout America’s attempt to avoid looking at the future it’s made for itself.
The intensity of that anguish can be measured most precisely, I think, in one small but telling point: the number of people whose final response to the lengthening shadow of the future is, “I hope I’ll be dead before it happens.”
It used to be absolutely standard, and not only in America, for people of every social class below the very rich to work hard, save money, and do without so that their children could have a better life than they had.
That parents could say to their own children, “I got mine, Jack; too bad your lives are going to suck,” belonged in the pages of lurid dime novels, not in everyday life.
Yet that’s exactly what the words “I hope I’ll be dead before it happens” imply.
The destiny that’s overtaking the industrial world isn’t something imposed from outside; it’s not an act of God or nature or callous fate; rather, it’s unfolding with mathematical exactness from the behavior of those who benefit from the existing order of things.
Maybe John Michael Greer would consider this web log as an example of denial. I do admit thinking sometimes that, at age 78, I’m glad I’ll probably end before industrial civilization does. And I admit hoping that at other times that all these problems will prove a mirage.
Maybe I’m like the man in the joke who fell off the Empire State Building (that shows how old a joke it is). As he passed each floor on the way down, he said, “So far, so good.”
I post a lot more about financial oligarchy, authoritarian government and perpetual warfare than I do about raw materials exhaustion, soil exhaustion and climate change, which are much more important long-range problems.
But then again, unless we have a democratic government, responsible to the people and not to a Washington and Wall Street elite, how can we face these more serious long-range problems?
If Greer and his fellow blogger Dmitry Orlov are right, future generations are going to have to make do with less than my generation did. I don’t see how it will be possible to make that argument to the American public as long as they already are tightening their belts, not for any valid goal but in order to that a financial elite will be able to maintain their wealth and a governmental-military elite will be able to maintain their quest for world power.