Sunday, March 17, 2013

Musings on The Future of Society

Allow me to think out loud at you for a second...

That we should fear a utopia as much or more than a dystopia is an interesting proposition. Though as I consider it, I become less convinced of where lays the dividing line. Through social and scientific progress it seems we are moving towards a utopia - a care-free, friendly and provided-for society. Or maybe I've phrased that poorly. I'm not sure we are actually progressing towards a utopia, but I think we are probably trying to point ourselves in that direction. I don't think the idea of a utopia has to be global, either. But I think the goal of every society on some level is to remove their stresses and debilitations. Medical research won't stop until it's cured every disease. Computer development won't stop until they can do ALL the thinking for us, automotives won't stop until it is surpassed by a quicker, cheaper, cleaner, safer means of travel - industry grows, competes and profits through innovation. People WANT to innovate and improve what we have. That's why we have dishwashers! Dishwashers are certainly a sign we have our eyes set on a relaxed utopia.

And yes, it's a very technology focussed idea but since it's much harder to get slaves, these days, it's got to be technology that starts taking over all the hassle of work for us, so we can get back to watching The Geordie Shore. There's no end to the obstacles non-technological that stand in the way of something utopian but if a problem isn't bothering us, is it still a problem? 

But back to the point: It is easy to imagine a world in which the only jobs are those that contribute to progress and those that maintain the technology that provides the essentials of our life. But even so, technology already builds technology on the production line. When all the vital industries are automated to pinnacle efficiency, we are left with only time for leisure.

But one wonders what we lose when we have removed any and all anxiety over our base needs. When Mazlow's hierarchy gets hobbled, do we also get hobbled? Hypothetically, if we are entirely devoted to our own amusements then, as a society, we begin to tune out. Actually, is that hypothetical at all? Isn't that what is already happening? I know more people - adult, fully functioning, rational, voting, human people - who know the life and times of Snooki by heart but do not understand how the voting system works in their own country.

This is a people you don't need to intimidate or brain-wash to control or oppress. This is a people who simply don't care. In a utopia in which your only concern is what makes you happy, what's fun and what feels good, as long as your Law & Order marathon isn't interrupted, it doesn't matter what goes on around you. A utopian society is a society ripe for the picking. The natural next step becomes tyranny. Utopia, perhaps, only leads to dystopia and you'd never know it happened.

But if you still get to watch Toddlers and Tiaras all day, is a handful of lost freedoms so bad? Hmmm....

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