We fell for it, guys. That cyberpunk future where corporations rule over all in a world of limitless technology, connecting billions across the globe, to the extent that we now have a functioning robot on Mars that can deliver hot laser death to the first communist pig that sets foot before pure American bootheels? It’s real. With our 4G tablets, interplanetary murder devices, and videogames being widely accepted as an artform, this is the future we dreamed of.
Sadly, we’ve paid a great price. “Nerd culture” has become the scourge of the earth, rampant consumerism, referential humor, and corporate worship has become the norm. Technological fetishism of consumer electronics is rising at an unhealthy precedent, so much that an internet weirdo can present some Photoshop mockups and a bunch of unsubstantiated claims of their production ability, and get millions of dollars just by promising to build a highly underpowered videogame console using mobile hardware.
This was the nightmare Huxley warned us of, the constant stimulation so that we’d never be bored, we’d never challenge our own beliefs, and we’d live in our bubbles, using the internet to find people to agree with us in anything, even if it was hugely untrue. Communication is breaking down, not by shorter and shorter phrases such as “LOL,” “OMG,” and so on, but how references for the sake of references have begun to permeate in culture.
The most obvious of which being The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom which exists solely as a show based on references to nerd culture as the butt of the supposed jokes, which are hard to pick out without the laugh track. Mainly because jokes are meant to be funny, and references are not.
One of the most popular films this year was The Avengers, which by the standards of how films for over a century now have developed in how to convey elements such as action and tension, was a complete travesty, best summed up by a child playing with toys in a toybox. More focused on the protection of a floating piece of military hardware than the civilians it was sworn to protect, The Avengers were quite a disturbed bunch of individuals. What truly damns The Avengers, however, is an entire scene, about two minutes long which is almost entirely technobabble. This scene exists solely as to make a Galaga reference as the entire basis for a joke. Not as a communication of an ideal, or a utilization of the artform as a piece of satire, but solely for a simple reference to a classic videogame.
The art world has started to fall apart as well, with galleries dedicated to fanart of cable television and someone putting corporate logos on Game Boy carts passing as something above blatant corporate worship. I am a firm believer that there is no “Good Olde Days,” yet one ideal remains true - that it used to be a man was defined by what they did. As America went through the 20th Century, a man was defined by what they own. Now, in the 21st, it is no longer the pursuit of wealth, but the pursuit of the illusion of wealth that has became the goal of those who aren’t born in it already.
People have now begun to define themselves as what they consume, in the sudden rise of Nerd Culture. The brand loyalties, the rampant consumption of media, the need for a shared experience amongst fellow nerds who Get It - has become the pursuit of the now.
In pursuit of our mancaves, flatscreens, and latest and greatest technological marvel, we’ve become a society apathetic, unaware, and incredibly expressive in our ignorance. Through our Twitter accounts, our Youtube channels, and internet forums, we’re happier than ever before to jump into discussions regardless of our knowledge at the topic at hand. Of course, one can totally jump into communities built around that shared ignorance, and even form identities - Otherkin, Mens Rights Activists, Bitcoiners, and so on - based on complete nonsense. In an age of being able to access information almost anywhere, misinformation has grown, and multiplied tenfold across the globe.
This isn’t the prophetic doom of society - but where we are right now is certainly something to take seriously, as it isn’t sustainable. Rare Earth minerals go into all of our consumer electronics, which are a finite resorce, the parts are assembled by slaves, which is especially inhumane for as far as society has come, and the disparity between the rich and poor is unimaginable. An average employee at a corporation makes 1/172 of his CEO’s salary in the United States, all in the name of the “Free Market” that would supposedly make everything right. Yet nobody questioned giving more money to rich people in a capitalist, greed based society where your bank account and credit score define your entire existence.
Maybe it’s time to stop buying shit relentlessly for the sake of dopamine release. Better yet, maybe it’s time to stop worshipping consumer products. The web is currently being flooded with millions of “unboxing” videos, which exist solely as some sort of archaic, tribal tribute to what is essentially a consumer product wrapped in packaging. It’s gotten to a point where at the date of this writing, a man lost his shit on the Internet because AT&T opened his precious iPhone 5 to set it up for him.
I will not bother you with the usual concern trolls of oh, there’s so many worse issues out there to care about, but this is simply pathetic behavior. We’re people. We do things, we make things. We go to the moon, we build massive structures of steel and service, we figured out how to utterly obliterate ourselves and the planet’s ability to sustain life in a few button presses and missile launches. We should be seeking to be better than our ancestors, regardless of the reason - whether it be bragging rights or to pass on a better planet to our children, and our culture is instead being overrun by marketers, art being reduced to “content,” popular music being reduced to teams of people manufacturing a role for an actor to step into.
I’ve always believed that the pursuit of a core, full perception of reality, with bias and distortion entirely removed from the mind’s decision making process, was the purest of philosophical pursuits. I hate to say it, but we may be becoming so oversatured with nonsense in all of our senses, that in an age of limitless information, where I can start learning a skill simply by having a smartphone with a decent signal in the palm of my hand, that a truely pure understanding of the world around us may no longer be possible.
For the future of civilization to thrive, the next great societal advancement will have be the one that frees us of bullshit.