The World (A Rant)

The world is a fucking mess.

I know. Stating the obvious. But it is. Watch the news. Watch the dead and gassed in Syria. Watch the people – me included – who say the use of chemical weapons crossed a moral line. I mean, shoot people – hell, that’s fucking fine. Maim and injure and murder away, but if you do anything with chemicals well, that’s a step too far. I mean just how apathetic are we? We’re like zombies on lithium numbed by war after war after terrorist atrocity after war.

But at least we still have the capacity to be shocked by something. At least we are still capable of giving a shit about people we don’t know. At least, somewhere, inside us there is still a sense of shared humanity.

We fool ourselves that technology means progress. Flaubert used to watch people getting excited about the railways and realised that all it meant was that people could move faster and meet each other more, but that they remained exactly as stupid as they did before. I feel the same about the internet sometimes. We pat humanity on the back for creating it but all it is doing is giving us better and more efficient ways of being stupid together.

We are all lost in our own fucking tribes, and we lose old prejudices and gain new ones.

Just as the 24 hour rolling horror show called the news has dulled our senses, so the tribalism of social media is dulling our empathy. It is mainly gay people leading the repulsion at the rise in government-endorsed homophobia in Russia, just as it is mainly women pointing out that online rape threats aren’t really acceptable. We should all be seeing these things, because they matter to us all. We are the human race. And if one human being isn’t able to live their life freely, than none of us are entirely free.

People are impressed that computers are getting ten times more powerful every ten years, but wouldn’t it be more impressive if our empathy rate increased at the same rate? If we could see ourselves as each other. If we could understand that we all come to this place with the same amount of emotions and needs and rights, and that our differences – especially those ones of nationality and faith and gender and sexuality – aren’t as important as our shared humanity. Also, without an equivalent psychological progress, technology will screw us. The computers that have now got 1 per cent of human brain power will eventually overtake us and our greed and short-sightedness will have ensured we got sloppy somewhere. And then there will be real trouble. (Just look at the NASDAQ computers, and see how fallible they are.) Yes, we’ve always been stupid, but we haven’t always been in charge of the future of nanotechnology or gene therapy.

So I think we should stop worshipping iPhones – that we go and then laugh at in five years anyway – and start working on each other. On trying to see the similarities beyond the superficial differences we seek to exaggerate in our Facebook ‘interests’ and Twitter bios. We need to realise that nationalities are constructs. (We are Syria. Just as we are gay. We are women. We are children gassed to death.)So too are genders, so let’s stop it with the Chelsea Manning giggles.

I think it’s time we stopped being obsessed with people’s sex lives and weight and language use and Gods and lifestyle choices.

I think, in short, it is time we fucking grew up.