“Better abs through science” – Matt (I think)
“Better living through chemistry” – Willow
“Better pubes through trimming” – Adam

Recent discussions have brought me to a new question:

Are we complacent as a generation? (especially in relation to politics)

I know I think we are. And I think it has something to do with the term Matt and Corey introduced to me this weekend: singularity :and our movement towards it.
We live in a world where everything changes so fast, with or without our input.

I would love to hear more viewpoints on this.

17 thoughts on “

  1. Politically, I don’t think our generation is nearly as complacent as it was just 6 years ago. Throughout the 90’s it was practically hip to be apathetic to the world around you, or at least that image was crammed down our throats by grunge marketing.

    Think about it though, Bush, 9/11, two countries invaded and the largest global anti-war protests in the history of, well… history, took place on our watch. I wouldn’t get pessimistic now just because we can’t find (or there are no) courses of action that could cause systemic change.

  2. To an extent, I agree.
    Reaction time for political concerns, while still comparatively slow (compared to what? trends in the media – physical concerns of survival – new scientific theories – these turn on a dime)…is speeding up.
    Largely due to the media presence of politics, paradoxically enough. The most technologically advanced means by which politicians can broadcast information (television, Internet) are the ones that shorten our attention span to the point of making us take more immediate action.
    Let me present an idea – Spider meets V. Politically active, s/he blogs on the go (like Spider – and Warren, if you’ve noticed, recently. So geeky ^_^). Like V, s/he utilizes stealth and anonymity to accomplish goals – not to mention flash mob tactics. Mind you, V (ah, in the movie. the book tells a different story…)gave a warning a year in advance.
    Add tech and flash mobs. How quickly could 100,000 citizens be on the steps of the Capitol?

    Ah, but I’ve digressed. The Singularity. Again (fusion-powered heart), I see two positions in regard to it. One says “well, whether we hit the jackpot or kill ourselves off in flupocalypse, it’s predetermined, and I can’t do a thing about it. Whether as an ecstatic fanboy of the future (I’m a little guilty at times) or a nihilistic doom-n-gloom type (also guilty at times), the “it’s fate” position seems to produce exactly what you mention: complacency. “We’ll all be dead/immortal in 20 years anyway, so what’s my motivation to excel?” Not really opposites – two halves of the same coin – determinism.
    Validity of determinism notwithstanding (oh hell, there’s an evening’s conversation – fate vs. free will) – a true opposite to both the above says “holy shit, things are changing so fast. Even the least little thing I do now could blossom into something huge in a few years…maybe not even that long”. For the math geeks, think of an exponential curve.
    [I’ll find a very early p-shop for this in a sec]
    A small tweak at the beginning won’t affect things for a long time. Change, even the least little bit, today – means everything. The “I should do something now, when it means so very much” idea. Multiplex causality/chaos theory – bootstrap theory, if you want to get really wild. Er, google some/all of those. I don’t feel like writing my thesis all over again. =p
    This has a practical and a mystical aspect – the former can be shown by imagining how any particular day could have been different had you got up/out five minutes earlier/later, and missed a bus/light/got to work/class on time, ran into/just missed a particular someone, etc.

    Ah. Sorry for the essay.

      • Spider Jerusalem, journalist, ala Warren Ellis, meets V, from V for Vendetta, ala the excellent graphic novel and (judgment pending) movie, from Alan Moore and the Wachowski Bros, respectively.

    • Essay good. But where is that light gun you promised me, where a user may unwrapp all of the puzzles and enigmas that trap their brain. That’d be an invention to make Tesslia shit his pants.

  3. Those boys are too optimistic. Yes, yes we are complacent, and self-absorbed as Hell, and rude and thoughtless and hubris-laden. Most members of our generation, at least the visible ones (not those poor people, because they don’t exist– we ALL have cars and laptops and FUCKING ‘net access at home, don’t we? That’s what it says on the TV…), are pretty much convinced that life is all happy ipods and being paid to write e-mail and okay, so maybe things somewhere aren’t so great, and yeah, we KNOW we’re destroying the environment, but I just had to go to that concert this weekend, and it’s three whole blocks, you don’t expect me to walk, do you?

    All of the stuff about things changing fast leading to people reacting to them fast rely on the notion that anyone gives a shit about anything that happens outside of his or her own personal sphere. And some do. But most don’t. And that is precisely because we are so damned complacent. When life is going all right, then all is well with the world, and why would we bother to inconvenience ourselves to change it? And as long as the cable’s still on, life is all right.

    Don’t misunderstand– I’m not painting myself as any different. I am very wrapped up in my own life. And back in the glorious days when I only had to look up a few ladder-rungs to see the underside of the poverty line, I didn’t do much either. Each individual necessarily feels pretty useless in a world where not only are there thousands like him, not only are his talents and skills not needed for anyone’s survival, but he could probably pretty easily be replaced by a mechanical contrivance in his empty useless job, and no one makes much of a secret of the fact that, since it would save the company a few cents an hour, that would actually be preferable. There are too many of us for any of us to feel that we matter much. Screaming invisible in a void, and no one notices. Doesn’t exactly inspire a man to do much besides, well, sleep.

    And yes, this is obviously based entirely on where I am right now. But I figured since we’ve had a couple of more optimistic perspectives, a view from the muck at the bottom might be useful as well.

    Holy shit, guys, you don’t actually think the unending stream of fuckwits who come in to the cafe for nonfat sugar-free vanilla lattes with Daddy’s credit card really care about anything but getting wasted and hooking up this weekend and eventually making $50,000 a year, do you? You’re looking at the ideal, the best-case human scenario. Pause for a moment and check out what humanity’s actually got to work with. Or don’t. It will not make you happy.

    Sorry for the skipping of logic. Not very awake, and need to eat.

    • Ah, I’m going to regret not posting the “and to an extent, I don’t…” bit, hm?
      Bloody yes, we are. 90-95% of the people I see every day match the kind of isolated bubble-robot mentality you’ve described. 90-95% of the time, that’s my condition as well. Most of them(us?) regret having to think about “hey, it’s your responsibility to make the situation better”. (s’true)

      That’s what I was on about with the “destiny of paradise/destiny of doom being two sides of the same coin” bit. I could use the idea of Singularity to adopt an attitude of “hey, intelligent machines will save us all in 20 years, so to hell with anything but that for now”…however…

      If Singularity MEANS anything to me, it’s that the power to fuck things up royally and quite permanently lies in our grasp just as sure as the power to provide for the needs and wants of everyone. An unlikely fiction? Possibly. But (alas), I’m one of those bastards who reads Fuller and Tesla and thinks “dammit, we could really pull off providing for everyone on this planet if we’d just apply the tech we have”. Makes me look at those in charge now, and wonder why we’re not doing exactly that. And that helps shake the sense of complacency. The idea that there’s something we could be doing better. We? Ah. Yes.

      How do we wake people up – get them to expand that sensory sphere to start giving a shit? You’re absolutely correct that the “what can I do by myself” line of thought makes slipping back into “but I ordered this half-caf” mode reeeeally tempting at times, as you’ve said. So. We have a bunch of people following status-quo.

      The Spider/V/discordian/Chris part of me says “well, that’s what the tech’s for – get out there, send the message in a way that people will hear it! take over the media, invade it from the inside, etc.”
      …is anybody actually going to do that? Well…it’d only take a few people.

      Ah, people are robots. To hell with the candy coating. They’re meaty robots, and I want to hack the whole lot of them.

      • I’m one of those bastards who reads Fuller and Tesla and thinks “dammit, we could really pull off providing for everyone on this planet if we’d just apply the tech we have”.

        Exactly. Which is why the idea of pursuing Technological Singularity seems utterly wrongheaded to me. What we need to focus on is social and cultural change, and learning to responsibly use the shit we’ve already created, rather than mindlessly jacking off to the idea of progress while shit like this continues, and while audacious propaganda like this goes unchallenged amongst our peers and our current government, so long as it allows people to remain comfortable in their own destructive habits and attitudes.

        I have a moral problem with the destruction of nature. I also have a moral problem with the dousing of the human spirit, with the reduction of men to faithful, domesticated animals too irresponsible not to need to and eventually want to be led en masse by totalitarian elements.

        Technology should facilitate evolution, not supplant it.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with staysonpaper. This whole argument reminds me of the “big fish in a small pond” metaphor and how globalization killed it. Mass media is the only way to make a difference on the scale of the politics that people really care about, so without access to a means for reaching millions, it all seems very pointless.

  5. ntrjctn

    Even most people I’ve met who’ll swear up and down they AREN’T complacent are; it’s just their “look.”

    &Technological Singularity[TM] is just as vapid an excuse for abandonment of ones existential/social/human responsibilities as is any other fictional messiah.

    Merry Christmas.

  6. I would like to venture forth that we are not nearly complacent as we ought to be. A lot of good hard money has been spent to shape this current world view. The least we could do is recognize their superior finacial backing and praise them for their efforts.

    If only we could be completely complacient, then the powers that be could really get around to their business of strip minning the planet, organizing global work patterns and maximizing profits.

    But noooo… we all have to have our little inner anarchist that tell us to sabotage things… like our jobs, our relationships. If we don’t get with the program, how are we going to find our niche in this new world order?

    sometimes, we make me sick… what with our need to interfere with their greater plans. Why don’t we just surrender and make it easier on ourselves… why all this struggle? Why alternative view points that are destined to be squashed out by riot cops and tv shows.

    America prevails!

      • That’s the spirit! You seen, we aren’t a complacent generation. We are actively seeking new data and new models. Bring a mask. The most common tactic for riot cops to employ is to gas you before they come in for melee. Your primary weapon in such brawls is your being anonymous.

        • Not complacent in general, but I would still argue that we’re politically complacent. I know I’m not the only person who forgets on a regular basis that our country is actually engaged in a war.

          Of course, it could just be a perspective trick caused by history books. We only learn about the world-changers, so they’re the only examples we have to compare ourselves to.

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