As often happens when I go into one of my deeper thought settings, a random series of events happen that suddenly seem connected. I have been thinking a lot about humanity as of late, politically speaking I have seen polarizing points of view all of my life but ever since the 2016 US election, that polarization has grown deafeningly louder than it has been in decades, maybe my entire lifetime and I’m rather old. Even during the polarization of Bush Jr.’s presidency, we did not see nearly this level of vitriol passed across the aisle.
Most of us are exhausted, we are burnt out on the anger, pain, fear, resentment, name calling, all of it. We miss the friends we’ve lost to the politically charged flame wars. We miss civility and BBQs. We miss friends, community, life as we knew it.
And it is easy to blame Covid19 for the deep depression that has settled over the lot of us. But it goes much deeper than Covid19 isolation. Since 2016 we have slowly been losing hope. And each day that we fight this exhaustion it seems like more and more people are swaying over to the side of, “Fuck everyone else, me, me, me…” the raging apathy is spreading like a wild fire and there are so few fire fighters left.
But those events I mentioned earlier, they give me just the tiniest glimmer of hope, yet, I have seen a community spirit that is more generous and accepting than I have seen ever before. I see people banding together not just in anger, or fear (though that may be justly so at times), but also in the spirit of lifting each other up. I’ve said it before but I will say it again, Twitch is a shining example of this. People freely giving their time and money to simply support someone who has a message they relate to. It has been years since this was an acceptable thing, and decades upon decades since it was a common thing to do.
Yesterday, I got into one of those flame wars (ever briefly) with someone who claimed ANY kind of socialism is bad, Mmm’kay? He claimed that no one should have to spend a dime, ever, like ever, ever, to help another person, that each person should be solely responsible for hunting and gathering and even building their own homes. This guy was such a blazing parody of himself that it would have, in other climates, been amusing. But if it wasn’t for the sheer fact that this thinking is not at all uncommon in this current day.
Today, I came across a video I’d seen before but forgot about, while the origins are likely a hoax, the message isn’t. Many of you have probably seen it before but I’ll post it below for reference.
This video being an interview with an “alien” who claims to be a descendant of humanity, sent back to study humans after we nearly destroy ourselves with nuclear technology. Today, as I watch the video, more than ever I feel like I relate more to this guy than I do to our species as they are today. Mind you, I have always felt more than a little alien on this planet, but the words hit harder than they did when I first saw this video however many eons ago.
Even staged, the dialogue is absolutely brilliant and intelligent, and more than a little foreshadowing. We are destroying ourselves; thoroughly and without haste. And we know it. And we do fuck all about it.
I questioned for the first time, are we worth saving? If I were an alien (or time traveler) sent here to study human kind, would I return with the message that they are worth saving? Ten years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to say yes. 5 years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to say yes. Today, I hesitated. And I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate that; how sad it makes me feel. With a heavy heart, I say, we need a change and we need it yesterday. As hard as it is, however painful, we need to start giving a shit, and not just about ourselves.
I have had many friends throughout my life who were cynical and I have had friends who refuse to have children because they don’t want to bring more humans into the World the way it is. And I always fiercely defended humanity (though I would never try to change their minds about baring children, that’s a personal choice that demands respect). I have always claimed there are more decent people than there are bad; more generosity than greed; more love than hate… but today… I struggle to continue to believe that. And that is heartbreaking. I have always been a hopeful and realistically optimistic person, level headed with just a dash of idealism. And yes, good still exists, and still in larger numbers than the latter but… it is not 90-10% or even 80-20% anymore, it feels like it is more like 60-40%, and getting worse with each passing day.
And the reason is simple: evil. But not the nonsense version of evil we grew up hearing about, this isn’t fiction, this isn’t some spectral or ethereal force. What makes what is happening evil is that it is a human machine that purposely attacks Free Will. With the advent of subliminal messaging in social media, people are straight up being brainwashed, and it keeps going unchecked. Companies like Cambridge Analytica (though now defunct and re-named) exist. Troll farms exist. Algorithms exist. Anyone who has a web history is being displayed a very specific view of the World desired by someone with a lot of money and a lot of power, who wants yours. And it keeps going unchecked. We all openly know this. It is discussed often. There have been literal court cases about it. And still it continues to happen. Why do we, as a society, not do more? Why do we keep using Facebook, and Google, and Amazon even when we know it is exploitative and harmful? The obvious answers are laziness and habitual behavior. The less obvious one is that brainwashing mentioned above.
I’ve had conversations recently with friends about this, and we readily accept those answers but I have to wonder, is there a point of no return? Can we re-condition ourselves? Is there even any hope that we can change? How do we start? Where do we start? I have other friends who have left mainstream social media, and swear by it. But is that the answer or is that avoiding the problem? We’ve tried the leaving Facebook en masse in recent history, it failed. Many were back on within the week.
I don’t have the answers and my conclusion, for now, is that all I can do is to continue to learn and to use my voice where I can, to keep holding out some hope; some small hope that there are enough on the side of humanity to make the continued fight worth it. I mean, we didn’t travel back in time for nothing, right?