Skip to main content

21st century man: Being clueless

How many among us are sure about our 'careers'? Doesn't it seem odd that in modern times, where we think we have answers to most problems, we are most clueless about our selves?
Never in the history of human civilisation have we been so privileged to be confused about our 'purpose'.
If you look at it from a certain high enough vantage, humanity looks like a drunk colony of ants. tittering around in uncertain directions - bumping into each other, getting lost even when around other people.

20th century would be seen as the time when these infant species won a lottery of hydrocarbons with which it fueled mindless orgy of consumption. 21st century would be the time when the species would be forced to 'grow up': To wake up with a hangover.

 In that sense, 21st century humanity is really an 'early growth stage' civilisation. (borrowing from marketing jargon). We are far from maturity as a civilisation. We have no clue what humanity wants to do collectively. We are forever busy waging internecine skirmishes. We have no clue what we want individually. We are eternally malleable in our wants and desires.
Here's an example of our nascent state. We have digital connectedness, but we have yet to make that connectedness work to our advantage fully. Currently, we are turning technologies into weapons - either militarily (PRISM, drones and a thousand other things) or socially (facebook turning social networks into narrow echo chamber seething with jealousy) or economically (uber malevolently destroying existing taxi networks instead of enabling existing taxi networks).

Typically, chaos finds some order and order finds some chaos. Its the yin-yang of the universe. For 20th century humans, the organising energy was selfish accumulation of currency. And humanity reorganised itself around that principle, with the most selfish and extractive people at the center in charge of earth's resources. It was a welcome change from the earlier organising principle - religious violence, which saw astroturfing of cultures with mindless violence in the name of fictitious entities.

 Every new organising principle leaves chaos in its wake as it reshuffles the lottery of beneficiaries. The major difference between the chaos of previous generation and the one we are experiencing now is that of lack of violence. A whole majority of our generation will be out of work in the coming decades without having been killed in a battle, in sickness or rendered incapacitated. This chaos is toxic in a whole different way.

I. Going-with-the-flow
People tend to 'go with the flow'. That's natural. I find myself working in an advertising agency because I live in a newish capitalist society and I went with the flow. I question the flow, certainly. That is healthy. That is also almost all my content (or discontent) on this blog.
But the thing is - the flux is global now. There in no alternative wave to ride if this one goes bust. There is no other ways to organise ourselves unless we are willing to be brave. The system is global and hence roles for us to take are fairly set.
The variety is cosmetic - there might be a proliferation of 'careers' but they are all quite similar in their impact and routines. commute-push buttons-commute-consume.
The impact of our work is diffused across the globe. We feel useless and yet rewarded for seemingly irrelevant associations. (An activist gets punished economically even if he/she is more useful for the economy in the long run. whereas a paper pusher in a bank is rewarded with fat pay-cheque even if his/her work is trivial. The thing is, people who are in the system get rewarded, not the ones outside.

II. Building alternatives
Well, this is for the brave among us.
a. Why can't the organising principle be decentralised compassion? Developmental sector tries to do that on a small scale. Various small communes have done it over the course of last century. Why can't that be the central organising principle of global economy?

b. Why can't the organising principle be open ideas? An anti-capitalist stance essentially. Instead of walled innovations and litigative and predatory patent system, this system would grow with open sharing of ideas. Imagine uber but without the 40Bn worth of malevolence that is used to violently rip apart taxi networks across the world. An open source uber would instead be used to streamline taxi services across the globe for free.

c. Why can't the organising principle be ecological conservation?  Or for the next few decades, overseeing the handover to a machine led world where humans have a role beyond sustenance. Maybe everyone becomes an explorers of the universe in a world run by machines. 

We must be open to ideas and utopias. We need sci-fi fiction to open our eyes to possibilities of our world now.

III. The choice

So essentially it really is a simple choice. Are you brave enough to contribute in building an alternative? Or would you rather find prosperity in the current globalised system?

IV. The context: The infant civilisation  

The choice is really not that simple. There is a sub-clause to that choice. The question is would you want to work for a better future for many or for better present for yourself?

The morning after, sunshine stings the eye of today's humanity. Would you rather try and wake up or put on a shade and spend the days hung-over?


Popular posts from this blog

Why I repair my shoe

I have 3 shoes. One formal, One sport shoe and another a mix of the two. The last one is particularly awesome, cause of its uniqueness. It looks like a formal shoe, but is as comfortable and flexible as a sport shoe. I bought it for my first job in Mumbai. I was newly rich and was expected to behave like one. I found this gem of pure black leather in a Colaba Causeway showroom. Quite a find. But its been almost two years now and the shoe shows its age. For all its awesomeness, its quite a weak shoe, to give out so early. I have stitched it, got new laces, and strengthened its sole. It doesn't look shiny anymore cause the leather has suffered from a few hostile trespasses. I think, like a man, things too should be allowed to carry their scars. Shiny scar-less men are just so... irrelevant. 

Since childhood, I have been used to using things for long times. Clothes, equipments, shoes etc. I can't just throw things away cause they don't look as good anymore or they don't w…

Reading India through 'Dictator's handbook'

What's the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship?
The book says, not much. India, agrees. Current political dispensation especially agrees vigorously.

"Soma" of hindutva and past glory + divided impoverished amnesiac masses + legitimised attack on individual rights + tremendous wealth shared among few = brave new world of oligarchical India.

Essentially, democracies/ dictatorships etc., are simply variants of the same power dynamic between the ruler, essentials, influentials and inter-changeables.

Interchangeables are the nominal selectorate - the individual voters who have nominal (or cosmetic) power to choose leader - most of us.
Influentials  are the real selectorate - the guys who really choose the leader. In US recently, the electoral college famously went against the popular vote and elected a clown as their president instead. In India, theoretically, the system is a bit better in terms of a wider base of influentials - it could be religious gurus, party…

How many shots of the girl dancing or laughing aimlessly does it take to establish her as a Manic pixie dream girl?

Learning from bad writing: Meri Pyaru bindu These days I am writing my first story that I intend to complete and publish. So as you can imagine, I am in the writer mode most of the time - anxiously looking for writer's intent, choices, character arcs, alternate story lines etc, while watching any movie or reading any novel. With a well written story, these choices are not that apparent. You have to look hard and yet you might miss out on essential choices that the writer made, to make the film/ novel a great piece of art. It feels as if the story flowed out from the author's mind onto paper with zero loss in translation. For that reason, it is difficult to learn much from good writing. It inspires, yes of course. It helps you get in the mood or get into the right frame of mind. But it can't teach as well as a badly written movie/ novel can.
A badly written story makes you aware of your own fallibility. It grounds you. Most importantly, it helps you see the many ways in wh…