As we go through life, especially during the transition from teenage years to adulthood, that is where I think we begin assuming that the world is gradually becoming a better place. Once in adulthood and “going about our lives,” I believe that most adults also generally assume that the world gets better every year. However, when I look into where we are going in our culture, and by our culture I mean western civilization and not on a national level, I tend to think that we are now less free than we were 2-3 decades ago.
20 years ago the internet per se was fairly decentralized (didn’t need blockchain), and overall, holistically speaking, the banking system was fairly unrestricted. Yet, albeit the heavy progress we have made in technology today in regard to convenience, Apple and Google are now the censors of information and apps on our phones, all the while, Mastercard and Visa along with their network limit what goods and services we can purchase. If you look into the subject you’ll notice that each year we give up more power and more control to corporate executives driving political agendas, shifting, all so gradually, society and what can and can’t be done.
Today, nearly all of us willingly carry tracking devices, our phones, and all corporations to use our private data to target us with content that keeps us distracted with all kinds of entertainment, selling the notion of our lives are getting easier and better. And I speak on a birds-eye view here. Tech is great, but at the same time, technology is making us “dumber” and numb to many things. We are giving up privacy for supposed safety because it’s better. Look at China, and their CCTV network along with AI utilization that makes sure no one can hide. 20 years ago, we didn’t need all this. And we in the west are not doing much better. Look at England, parts of the US, and so forth.
On top of this, I not only have the impression, but it’s also real, just look at our leaders, who are stepping towards authoritarian rule. In 2017 China overtook the US as the largest economy by purchasing power. This showed everyone that individual freedoms are not required for economic success or development. Many including the US, Germany, the UK, and so forth are curbing human rights such as freedom of speech, movement, and assembly! But because it’s so gradual, and we are so busy with our daily lives, we just “go on.”
We go about our daily lives, myself included, and believe all our political systems, have the proper balances and checks in place to avoid the misuse of power, however, the gradual breakdown of elements of this system is what I believe leads to the general acceptance of society, that “hey, it is what it is.” We have jobs, and can afford to eat, etc. and hence accept the fact that the current generations are creating a society for our kids that will be full of repression, angst, and limitations.
Most technology leaders, including start-ups and unicorns, are solving some big problems, but within the scope of what I see as a shrinking playing field of “free enterprise.” I take an example out of the social dilemma – where amazing minds and really creative people build digital content believing they are creating amazing, but ultimately all those former executives and tech engineers, only see the “damage they’ve done” in hindsight. And as a society, we just shrug our shoulders rather than critically assess this changing trend and taking action.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic here. We have a lot of opportunities, but that window is becoming narrower and narrower as those in power become ever so slightly corrupt on levels we accept because they do not affect us yet. Unchecked, the legacy of our generation will be one that goes down in history that allowed society to turn from progress in sciences, tech, health, etc. to a degraded dystopian nightmare. We need to step up our game in the political arena so those in “power” both political and not, defend the freedoms previous generations fought so hard to fight for!
You might think that this post seems a little crazy, but the fact that it is true is what frightens me. I find it my responsibility to act through discussion, through engagement, through action, to ensure that all of us, myself included, do not get too comfortable with the gradual aspect of others pulling the rug ever so slightly out from underneath our (society’s) feet.