In a certain sense, aren’t we more powerful than the mass of humanity has ever been? This power that comes with knowledge, with the connections of thought and where they can lead. Then, the power that connectedness offers on the more human level: the psychological reassurance of connecting with people rather than being alone and a potential for coordination we’ve never had before.
It’s somewhere between ‘knowledge is power’ and ‘strength in numbers’ – this sense in which ties with others and with information are simply empowering. It’s surely quite amazing we have these possibilities? That the worlds of understanding and relationship are now at our fingertips. All that humanity’s arguably been fighting for all these years is “here”.
Isn’t this what people had been working towards throughout preceding decades and centuries? All-encompassing insight. Drawing together all these disparate experiences and bodies of knowledge into a single conversation and place of reference. The dream of making everything available; exposing it all to the clear light of day; getting everyone on the same page around similar ideas (Notes One).
Knowing we’re not alone, that others hear our struggles and we’re all working together at a better world for everyone, may be humanity’s most beautiful dream – this picture of uniting the globe with common understanding, mutual concern, concerted action. Because don’t we now have the capacity for those things? If only thinking, relating and embracing others and their ideas weren’t so challenging (Notes Two).
As with almost every project, perhaps, reality’s a little more flawed. If technology’s an enshrined understanding of the systems, ideas and functions of human existence, how can we be sure our understanding at that point was perfect? And, if it wasn’t, are we to proceed with imperfect ideas or somehow work to rectify them? If our thinking’s informed by all this, though, where can we stand to correct it? (Notes Three)
Might it not be that modern life risks becoming a caricature of misunderstood, original truth? Our starting points codified, brought to life in new ways, and evolving into strange contorted echoes of fundamental human realities. In technology as much as thought itself, isn’t it true that a false premise might lead to wildly inappropriate outcomes?
Without fully understanding where ideas, theories and solutions have come from there’s presumably a danger we’ll lose the capacity to judge, course-correct or interact wisely with what’s around us. Doesn’t letting things shape our lives without a solid sense of the reality behind it risk us being limited by the design of it all – incapable of challenging the pace of “progress”? (Notes Four)
Modern living’s perhaps easier and more difficult than ever: if we can do and know almost anything, so many boundaries having been removed, it’s effectively up to us all to thoroughly understand what we’re choosing. Do we have the strength – the mental bandwidth – to grasp all that’s going on? And, if those capacities become weakened through reliance or deference to technology, how are we to decide which paths to take?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Culture as a conversation across time
Note 1: How ideas find their place in the world
Note 2: Life’s never been simpler…
Note 2: True relationship within society?
Note 3: Problems & the thought that created them
Note 3: The value of a questioning attitude?
Note 4: Technology as a partial reality
Note 4: Mastering life’s invisible realities
Note 4: Detaching from the world around us