Thursday, May 7, 2015

Crisis of Meaning in the 21st Century: Part Two

 In a time of increased connectivity, how are people who feel disconnected from society meant to play a role in a confused system that they do not wish to participate in.
There is a 'crisis of meaning' that is palatable some days.

Status, social media and the ideas of success and failure prevail in all countries, but in industrialised or 'developed' countries, there is a sharp increase in suicides and social problems. How are we to assign meaning, or bring it back on our own terms, not just as individuals, but collectively so we begin to see a narrative that does not include just ourselves.
I will not pretend to have any answers, who does for such structural and social inequity.

The above chart perfectly demonstrates the onset of the existential crisis. 
What an eye-opener studying politics can be. I recommend it for those who are civic minded, I do not recommend it for people who believe the system is justified, perfectly balanced and working.

How is anyone meant to have a proper think about meaning and meaninglessness when the greats of the 20th century (well, those of prominent cultural influence and acceptance) offer polarised views?

One negative side effect of the industrial revolution was that it displaced many workers. Many people had to be a 'jack of all trades' or specialised in one thing above their other skill sets, which got completely replaced by machines. Automation and increases in technology are growing by the second, there are a series of videos available about robot bartenders. Many jobs will be replaced within a few technological generations, it will be interesting to see how quickly people allow machines to take even more jobs. The idea of working less with machinery around, in terms of the modern work week, is a myth. Poor Adam Smith actually had quite strong humanist views, and his economic papers got cherry-picked by economists and people who push for growth for growth's sake.

How are people meant to find meaning with their lives if they can't find meaningful work. We must define success in our own terms, and remember that comparison is the thief of joy.

If you start to talk to people about how machines are evolving rapidly, they just think you're a fundy whackjob, paranoid about Skynet. When firms adopt technology that decreases human costs to their business, and increases profit over employment, legislators will undoubtedly have an interesting time.

A great pictographic from Lapham's Quarterly, from here

This whole post is mainly a series of fracture thoughts, as I am sure is apparent. It is just demonstrative of the nature of the direction a large part of the world is heading into, the championing of technology and growth for growths sake, whilst ignoring the endemic social problems in their own backyard. We may have great innovation, but we have a growing suicide rate. We may have low funemployment levels, but technology is replacing jobs very quickly.


Me too.

All pics via Tumblr


No comments:

Post a Comment