What we've surrendered

I was around the 500th user on Facebook.  I liked it as another way to potentially meet girls and to get the word out about my band, though I thought it was so niche that my nerdy friends and I would be the only ones who would use it. The thing I liked about it is that it was an augment to my real day. I would come home after a day of classes and see if anyone I knew had signed up, I could check out their info (because at the time it was just a profile picture, no news feed/baby status updates - can you imagine??) but it felt like an extra connection.

After the technology jumped into the handheld universe the gossamer connection offered by the website started to slowly siphon the significance away from the actual, real world relationships I had. Maybe those were imaginary in themselves, but something about social life since the adoption of smartphones feels akin to someone turning down the color on your vision a half percent a day. You wouldn't notice immediately, and wouldn't have any frame of reference, but everything would just start feeling more bleak and drab. A feeling of hopelessness and fear would appear... sound familiar?

I think it's good for a society to have deference for the first movers, the big creators - but granting them perpetual monopoly over concepts like curiosity and social connections is a major folly. Some of the richest men in history were formed out of the dawning of the industrial era in America. They happened to be the guys int he right place who happened to continue to place bets that worked. For every Andrew Carnegie there is a Dale Schtump who invested in Horse Hotels because he didn't happen to run across the guy selling improved steam engines. If we had collectively decided there was some mantle of divine providence on Carnegie/Carnegie/Rockefeller/Vanderbilt and given them carte blanche to own our infrastructure whole hog, how do you think that would have turned out?

I think that the FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) deserve to have a healthy share of their respective markets, but they have proven time and again to be keenly aware of the lack of market forces on their businesses, and they act accordingly. 

In the industrial revolution a few small investors would pool their money to create corporations who could match the buying and spending power of powerful individuals, while I think that was an overall positive for allowing the development of a free market, the residual is that the lumbering oaf of a concept that is fiduciary duty. 

In my opinion we are on the precipice of a new era that could reshape the face of collective effort. A corporation was a concept designed to be so simplistic in its intent that it could unify investors from every walk of life, and to do that they needed to find the lowest rung on the ideal ladder: avarice. 

Today as communication is becoming easier, Ideas are easier to spread and people that share more nuanced ideas can be unified. The sad example is neo-Nazis - once teetering on the edge of fairy tale this concept has roared back into popularity. I think this is the case because hatred doesn't need a call to action, whereas constructive collective ideals do.  

If all of the silent bystanders of this era, which I think of as the death throes of primitive internet, could come together to forge a better use of modern technology I believe we could be on the verge of another Enlightenment. A new wave in human culture and understanding. But first we have to understand what we've surrendered to get where we are today. Users can no longer sit idly by and accept the easiest/cheapest technological solution, because those solutions have proven themselves to be death by a slow poison. 

1 comment:

Donna Larson said...

There are not enough YouTube videos of you performing. I used Google to search for you and found this blog. I didn't know you still wrote here. I spend time on Ancestry. Did you know after people die all that is left are census records, a few pictures, and occasionally a well written obituary. The person's whole existence becomes nothing more than a name in a tree. I feel like there is a missing link in all of it. But even after 61 years of trying to figure it out I am still left wondering.