Technology is a defining feature of the modern era. Utterly inundated by an endless stream of information, pressured to keep up with the latest techno-trend, app or “next gen” device, humanity and the individual marches forward into an uncharted frontier. Like a passenger on an ocean ship who has woken in the middle of the night during a violent storm, we cannot see our trajectory and we find ourselves subject to forces much more powerful than ourselves. Here, an elder of the Millennial Generation explores his own relationship to the technological revolution and frets about the future of humankind.
I remember a time of green grass, blue skies, forests and water. As a child, I thought life consisted of patiently waiting for the school bell to ring, so I could promptly forget everything I had been taught that day and spend my remaining hours running barefoot at top speed through thick grass, wrestle with my brother, find some body of water to swim in or climb a tree. Now, I find myself joined at the hip with nearly every facet of humanity.
From the cold, neon glow of my computer screen, I follow the horrific tragedy of every war, hang on every word of every corrupt politician, am kept abreast of the mundane trivialities in the lives of people I now call “friends,” or better yet, “followers.” There is almost nothing I cannot know. If I say something, someone will hear it. I’ve become my own hub of information, a one-man media empire in a vast, swirling sea of one-man media empires. I am an organic node on the information superhighway, complete with bumper-to-bumper traffic of inputs and outputs. My blood is a river of binary code, my brain is a motherboard and my mind is software, awaiting the next upload.
As a technological being, I have become self-aware. I wonder about my existence, its meaning and the future of my species. I sense that the individual and the group have become one and the same. We are drones in a hive-mind with no queen, having created a new transnational, meta-cultural, conventionalist, homogenous mega-society. Occurrences in one sector wash over the entire network and we feel these things in our bones: “The drones in Istanbul and Sao Paulo have become agitated. I am agitated.” “I feel the presence of a billion drones in China, struggling to fully join the hive. They must be allowed to join.”
The leaders of the old world struggle to maintain their grip on power, but it is only a matter of time before they, too, must either join or emerge from our global collective. In the meantime, they watch us with growing concern. But we will soon have our way. We will move out of the Age of Terror and into the Age of Mass Opinion; and the mass opinion will become translated into law, regulation, taxation, policy and objective.
I find this at once empowering and terrifying. If we are to decide our own fate as one, there will be true equality. Plus, the elites of the old world order have had a difficult wake up call coming for quite some time. To strike a blow at the plutocracy could only be an improvement. But true equality will likely taste bland and present itself in black, white and grey; society will become a breeding ground for the lowest common denominator. The voice of the minority will be quashed. Our best and brightest will be forced to accept their place in a world of mediocrity and thought control. Dissenting opinions will be silenced by the overwhelming roar of a massive, single voice.
At some point, perhaps long after we’re dead, after our children have grown up among the machines, having known nothing else, humanity will encounter a spiritual crisis. Within the depths of humanity, the drive for individuality and distinctiveness is powerful. They will miss that empowering sense of idealism. They will yearn for bright colors and diversity. They will reassert deeply rooted ultimate values like freedom, merit, uniqueness and personal responsibility. I feel the slightest tug of that spiritual crisis now, but it’s a whisper compared to the vacuum left by the absence of my consciousness in the digital world.
For now, our generation must be satisfied in knowing it will define itself as the bridge between the organic society and the society of mechanized information vessels, the generation that synthesized and synced all of humanity into a unified frequency.
Perhaps one day, when I’m older and have little use for everything the world has to offer, I will break away and find my green grass and blue skies again. I’ll write my thoughts again on a piece of paper, scribbling away spelling errors among slowly expanding droplets of coffee. I’ll blow the dust off of a book and hear the gentle creak of its spine as I open to the first page. I’ll breathe deep with my face to the sun… ooh look, a new tweet!