I just came across this article: Why We Haven’t Met Any Aliens?, and while it’s title suggested nothing of the sort, I found myself reading what seemed like the thoughts I’m having lately: that consumption may be the biggest threat humanity faced. The article says that Neil Postman was right: we are Amusing Ourselves To Death. While Postman is far too Luddite for my better judgment, I think he’s the first writer I had heard express the sentiment.
In the article, there’s a striking statement, saying as much as: we evolved to thing high energy foods were tasty and to seek fertile mates - that’s now evolved into fast food and pornography (fast sex?). Also, the idea that I’ve been calling “Status Hacking” is now rebranded Fitness Faking.
Hacker News has some good comments on the piece - though somewhat predictable for the current Hollywood-for-Geeks crew in Silicon Valley. One member perhaps nails it by saying:
“Almost everything good and bad that humans have done is to the drive of a SMALL number if (or single) individuals (American Decl. of Independence, Soviet revolution, Indian freedom struggle, race to colonize the world, WW2, 9/11, Iraq invasion).
That is why it doesn’t matter if 99.999% of the world is pre-occupied with one mindvirus or other. It’s the 1-in-100k person who really takes humanity to the next level of greatness/depravity.
There will always be ambitious people for whom this world will be too small: they will colonize the next planet.”
For me, I think that we need to repurpose our status equipment so that other things appear important - that or perhaps capitalism will morph into so other type of better internalizing-the-externalities type of system. Don’t hold your breath though.