Long time no post. Been kinda busy, living life, getting caught up in the whole capitalist slavery thing, as you do, whether you like it or not. The whole concept of capitalism is rather complex, and quite a subtle trap for all of us (those that live in the developed chasing-the-carrot western world, that is). For the rest of you, survival is still one of the main battles...
I was thinking a bit about my post a while ago about universal values, and I kind of got to tackling the whole issue of the existence of the Internet. I forgot to mention at the time that the advent of the Internet is one of the great developments for mankind in the modern era. Once again, I need to mention that this is only the case for those countries where the Internet is readily available, and where mere survival has become more of an academic problem than a practical one.
My thoughts on the Internet are as follows - I believe that it has the potential to save us. However, it is fraught with danger. Let me explain...
Firstly, let me point out that any worldwide cultural change takes time to manifest itself. The effects of the Internet are far-reaching, and are only just beginning to filter through to our day-to-day existence. With the time-lag effects of generational change, and the inertial effects of existing power bases, it is realistic to assume that any truly significant changes will take some time to reach critical mass and break through the barriers of existing power bases.
It is already a rather exciting phenomenon that rapid technological change has become part of our every day lives. What would once have been considered impossible in the space of generations is now taking place in mere decades or years. This acceleration of change affects us in every facet of our existence. It would be an extremely dangerous act to simply embrace this acceleration without questioning it, despite the many perceived advantages that it may have.
What we are facing is a very interesting time. We are perched upon a precipice, with major advancements in multiple fields of endeavour bombarding us from all sides. One of the criticalities of this is that we need to remember our past to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes again and again.
A difficult proposition, considering the ever greater body of knowledge that is accumulating, and the continued abstraction of the reality that surrounds us. One of my main concerns is that we are climbing further and further up the ladder, without realising that we need to maintain a firm footing on the ground in order to survive.
Who amongst us is able to say that, given a catastrophic failure of the systems around us (the systems that we so take for granted), we would be able to apply basic survival techniques to live out the next few days without easy access to the fundamentals of life (food, water and shelter)? We may still have survival instincts hard-coded into our animalistic nature, but have we not become so far removed from the real world that we would struggle to stay alive given a removal from our comfortable lives of takeaway pizzas, water at the turn of the tap, and a safe warm house at the flick of a switch?
Safety in the modern world is merely an illusion, and has always been so. Anyone who believes otherwise is deluding themselves. The whole concept of the modern world is that mankind is king, that we are able to control everything in the material world, and that no catastrophe can touch us. The danger that faces us is that we are a spoiled couple of generations who have never known real hardship, have never known the cold, hard edge of survival at its rawest. The spoiled generations will come crashing down to earth with an incredible bang when the systems that we rely on are no longer able to cope with the harsh realities of existence.
A great universal quote from some nameless genius states that mankind is only 2 or 3 meals away from total chaos. We can manage skipping a couple of meals, sure, but when a major catastrophe or challenge disrupts our day-to-day existence to the point of destroying our essentials (food, water and shelter), then the thin veneer of society will break down, and we will be left fending for ourselves without any recourse to all that we once placed our faith in.
Whether that threat comes from disease (antibiotic-resistant strains, etc.), peak oil, global climate change or other unforeseeable factors beyond our control, the illusion of safety will be stripped from us in mere instants. The undeveloped world will most likely fare better than the fat, spoiled developed western world, because they are used to the daily struggle for survival. We will have to relearn this valuable skill, and quickly, to avoid extermination.
So, where does the Internet lie in all of this? I see the Internet as a possible saviour - through the dissemination of knowledge to the masses. But for as long as it remains an irrelevant source of porn, peer-to-peer piracy, proprietary products and a great new marketing tool for the monied powers of the capitalist machine, I fail to see how it can possibly achieve its true potential of informing the masses and preparing us for the fall that inevitably lies before us.
I only hope that we are ready for what I personally believe will come to pass - a cataclysmic event from any of the hundreds of possible timebombs, happily ticking away. Call me a pessimist, if you like. I choose to think of myself as a realist. When the shit hits the fan, come and see me. I'll be ready, and looking forward to the challenge of day-to-day survival. Let's face it, when all of the veneer of modern living is stripped away, that is what life is all about.
Till next time, oh ramblers, your humble servant is calling to you from the wings of the wasteland...