The Dystopian Worlds We Create For Ourselves13 Jun 2015
As humans we actively share stories of dystopian futures, worlds like in the Terminator where we've completely destroyed the planet, and Elysium where earth is only for the poor, to Mad Max where the car has successfully eroded the fabric of our society. All of these stories provide us with potential warning bells for very troubling possible futures that we should want to avoid, but interestingly we actually use these stories as distraction from the dystopian worlds we have already laid down, and are planting the seeds for. Around the beginning of the 20th century, a major choice was being made, whether we opted for a world of public transportation, or the much more individual focused world of the automobile.
The choice we made is obvious, in 2015 the automobile is a first class citizen in our world. Much of our public spaces are dedicated to these vehicles, and a significant portion of the average american's budget goes to accommodating these units of transport. We allow for a huge amount of death, not just from car accidents, but a wide variety of areas ranging from striking pedestrians to climate change. We opt for a gymn membership, and commute to work over actually being healthy, and living within walking distance our worlds. We live in a dystopian future, that if you told the story of to people of the 19th, and early 20th centuries, would leave them with a very dark picture in their minds.
In 2015, as we selectively choose what terrifies us, the automobile doesn't just elude our focus, it manages to achieve an elevated status, holding more importance than some of our family members, children, and other objects that we covet in our consumer society. We actually celebrate how our automobile separates us from the world around us, providing us with a shield that keeps us from having to actually engage with anyone, encouraging us to be extremely badly behaved in an infinite number of ways. The tools us humans adopt have always shaped who we are, and the worlds around us, but the automobile has set the stage for a world, that I am afraid we may never be able to back away from, or reboot.
I see the same theme playing out with three key technologies that are flourishing right now: cameras, drones, and the Internet. Much like automobiles we will go to disturbing lengths to accommodate these tools, bending, shifting, and paying for workarounds in a life constantly interrupted by technology. Today, much of our daily behavior exists in the service of the automobile, and in coming years our enslavement to cameras, drones, and the Internet as it makes it migration from our desktop computers, laptops, and mobile phones, to almost every object in our lives, will shape almost every aspect of our life.
Like a slow motion train wreck, we welcome these technologies into our lives, with almost no critical evaluation of the long term effects, and impact. I'm afraid there is no turning back, with the current technological climate, we are just on a perpetual dystopian slide into the troubling furue we seem to deserve.