Society Systems

Don't Panic.

This is about technology and society – which is really about society these days. Bear with me.

The universe we know is full of systems, we as a society increasingly understand them. There are rules to them – real rules – that we’ve begun exploring through science. That’s all very exciting, but society isn’t good at listening to scientists. What we are good at is making our own systems, and we expect them to be followed as if there is some natural order to things.

man wondering if he could pee between the pillars

Born here?
That’s how we define you.

Look a certain way? That’s how we define you.

Believe in some form of deity, or not?
That’s how we define you.

And so on, and so on.

We end up shadowy figures of the biases of others. In an increasingly digital world, where our data is analyzed, our shadows become more blurry yet that blur also defines us as it fits certain fuzzy categories we don’t know about.

This all worked out really well when everyone was born in the same place, looked a certain way and believed in some form of deity, among many other things. Anyone not like was from somewhere else, and was not to be trusted. The concept of immigration was a matter seen as invasion, more or less. Some people still think this way. That’s not the topic at hand. And no, it’s not about branding the systems as bad, either.

They are what they are.
The question is whether they should be what they are now.
That’s what people are largely upset about right now.
It’s largely what they will be upset about in the future.

second babel tower

These systems were seen as necessary at the time. I wasn’t there at the time, and it’s highly unlikely you were there at the time.

We learn about what was wrong with the systems and we have opinions, largely because how we view the world changes.

We disagree with many of the systems now – some more than others. Largely, though, we are victims of what our forebears thought was possible.

Change comes from tossing at least a part of this framework of possibility aside in a haphazard sort of way, plodding toward what we believe is progress – what we hope is progress – but we don’t really know. We like to think we know because it makes us feel grounded, like we somehow matter. Maybe we do. Is it so horrible if we didn’t? Human nature says, “Yes”.

The world is accelerating now in profound ways. Networks pump information, if we drill down into them we find the rhythms to be of a very human nature. When people wake up. When people get off work. It’s all a framework of our own creation.

It’s a framework built so that we can break out of the old frameworks – not purposefully, but it ended up that way. The truth is that no one really had an idea. There were some hopes.

There were also a few who thought it all a novelty. There still are.

Subtly, across generations, we have come a long way – and technology is now driving us to go further. At a societal level, people aspire to be driven by technology.

Who drives the technology?

The people who make the frameworks that people use.

What drives them? Are they trying to make the world a better place?
Who are they trying to make the world a better place for?

Who stymies the technology? The people who make the frameworks that people have used and have begun to feel trapped by.

And all the while, everyone is coloring in lines that someone else drew because society doesn’t like change to happen too fast.

And so, slowly, we build new systems in this evolving mechanism we call society.

We are society.


Black Hole Sun

They paint their world full of shadows and then they tell their children to stay close to the light.

Their Light. Their reasons, Their judgments.

Because in the darkness there be dragons. But it isn’t true. 
We can prove that it isn’t true.

In the ‘dark’, there is discovery, there is possibility, there is freedom in the dark once someone has illuminated it.’
– Flint, “Black Sails”, Season 4, Episode XXXVIII

There’s a difference between growing up in the dark and growing up in the light. The results of growing up in the light are plain and are hinted at above. Beaten paths are chosen, and yet when the dark is somewhere they depend on someone else to light the path, to hold their hand and guide them.

But no one has been to the dark places, or those that have are victims of popular thought – the outliers, those that don’t play by the rules of their Light, their Reasons, their Judgement. And yet to push back that darkness takes people who are willing to go to the dark places and make light of them – to walk through the brush and feel the land under their feet, creating an echo of it in their minds. The explorers. The discoverers. Those unfettered from the popular Lights, the popular Reasons, the popular Judgements.

And people who grew up in the dark learned not to fear it but to embrace it, to taste of the dark brownian motion of the soul and master the unknown, to make sense out of nonsense, to find the order in what others see as chaos or be doomed to the chaos.

There’s a branch of people growing up in the dark who never find the illuminations, for whatever reasons. Then there’s the branch you can drop some others off with no more than a knife and some rope to find a civilization in a few decades.

Fear is the master of all of this – and mastering fear determines how people deal with the world. If they only know the black and white, they do not truly appreciate the dusk of sunset and the colors of the pre-dawn, where the light bounces through the atmosphere and it’s contents to give the brightest of colors that those waiting for the light will never see.

In 2018, we see the world changing. Storms in Europe, temperatures in Canada that make Antarctica a tropical paradise, flooding, earthquakes – some Lights call these acts of God, other Lights self-flagellate for all of humanity calling it climate change. We see things faster with technology and watch how weak our civilizations have always been, only now able to see how slow and cumbersome they have become as our ability to see it has improved. Resources once plentiful are now more scarce, geopolitical lines that were greying become more black and white. Statesmanship morphs into a reflection of our systems – those that rise to power know how to game the systems, they have become parts of the systems. People are blamed because, implicitly, ‘it couldn’t possibly be the systems‘. Of course it’s the systems. People are inherently flawed, every one of us, and systems are simply agreed upon designs of flawed humans.

People live in fear of crimes the systems allow for, people have shifted their ethics to what they can get away with by Law and Law abandons Ethics.

Meanwhile, we have more humans arriving like Earth’s sexually transmitted diseases, with no natural predators other than ourselves.

The world is darker as the false lights fail one by one, under their own weight. This scares people tied to how it is, how it was, how they think it has always been.

To those used to the dark, there’s a freedom there – a cascade of colors of a pre-dawn sunset to come, an opportunity to look at things anew and do better.

The world is changing and it scares people, often for the wrong reasons.