Water, if drank too much of, is unhealthy. By extension anything we can consume is potentially deadly. This is a worrying revelation considering what we consume is not limited to the material world. Much of our consumption is cerebral. And so I believe we have created a new kind of sickness: Society Sickness.
Since I was a child people were constantly talking about how quickly change was occurring in the world. I’m sure as well that this particular topic was not native to my generation. Pretty much since change has occurred people have said it’s becoming more rapid, and relatively speaking, they’d be right. I identify this as the primary reason that people dilute their understanding of change now. A mentality wherein we think “well change has always sped up” does not fully appreciate the degree to which it has in our time. And oh my friends how truly it has.
If you consider that the earliest manifestations of the Internet started in the 1960’s, a fact I looked up as I write this, you should realize how recently massive change has come to the world. Freedom of information is the key factor in how different our lives are today. The advent of the smartphone I think has been severely underestimated for its impact as well. There are other technologies I could mention but I feel these best express the idea I am driving at.
We’ve had so many new technological introductions to our society that allow us to socialize and educate that I believe, as much as we have impressively adapted, we have not kept up. To draw a fun historical comparison for what happens when new thinking or technology enters the world we could examine briefly Genghis Khan. Previous to the way his military fought, warfare had remained the same for hundreds of years. Equipped as he was with more potent knowledge and tactics, he annihilated his opponents and established one of history’s greatest dynasties. Technology is Genghis Khan in our case; and we are his opponents.
We too easily think of the freedom of information as something that enriches us. When in truth, information comes in infinite forms and is capable of being equally as destructive as it is constructive. Certainly we can now spend endless time improving ourselves with every great master’s works of fiction or science available at our fingertips. But just as simply we can waste weeks binge-watching inane garbage spewed out by click-bait media. We’ve accomplished many great things as a species but our preference, ingrained through evolutionary survival, for the path of least resistance, often leads us astray.
And we have, as I have tried to establish, come by this fairly innocently. Parents barely used to Facebook themselves would have a hard time realizing what an intense role it will play in their children’s lives. Technology even within the last 10 years has accelerated at such a pace that all but the nerds obsessed with it would not grasp its implications. We’ve all heard the expression “we need to disconnect” and that is what I will appeal to here. Take a moment and think how often each day your eyes are resting on a device that grants free flow limitless information. You may find it startling. We are consuming our society, both mentally and materially, at a rate that could not be called healthy, and we are suffering from it.
I made the point at the beginning concerning water to illustrate that regardless of the quality of something—we need water to live—in excess it’s harmful. It’s worth bearing that in mind for information as well. Yes, even good information that we consume can become harmful, if we do not allow ourselves a moment away from it. So for the love of the great flying spaghetti monster meditate, go camping, and speak personally with a friend. Disconnect and recharge. Maybe one day we’ll expand our mental capacity with whatever neurological implants to handle an endless non-stop flow of “The Kardashians” or “Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey”. But that day has not yet come.