“I grew up in Brooklyn. Of all the wonders and pleasures that can be found in nature, none of them can be found in Brooklyn…
“There were no flowers, just artificial ones. Every apartment had artificial flowers. People took great pride in their artificial flowers. And fruit – let’s not leave out the fruit. Anything fake – we love good fake things. The greatest compliment you could give somebody was to mistakenly pick up a piece of their artificial fruit, and take a bit out of it.”Larry David – “Earth to America”
The virtual world
How long have you spent looking at your phone already today?
That’s not an accident, you know? That’s not just one of those things that naturally evolved, the way giraffes grew longer necks. It was deliberate. It was imposed upon you. And it was orchestrated by a very small group of people, none of whom give a flying fuck about you.
During the last couple of decades – and especially the last one – the internet changed dramatically. In short, it went from being an ‘information highway’ – and a cultural asset helping humanity soar ever higher – to a capitalist’s wet dream.
Basically, a small handful of US corporations started to figure out something with huge ramifications. They realised that this internet had incredible potential when it came to gaining control over the masses. And that nobody had quite managed it yet.
Deliberately designing devices and applications to prey on and trigger our basest instincts, they got us all hooked on a virtual world. More than that, they got us to believe in our very core that this virtual world was just as real – perhaps even more so – than the world perceived by our senses.
This is not a conspiracy theory – it’s fact. What happened is not up for debate.
What is up for debate, however, is where we go from here. How we get back to the real world.
Evil is a choice
I don’t think we let the rich and powerful off lightly enough. Not considering what they’ve done – wilfully and persistenty destroy the culture to line their pockets until they die in a few decades time…
I’ve noticed, listening to a mixture of other people and my own thoughts, that when we hear about a Zuckerberg, a Bezos, a Trump – somebody in a position of vast power and resources – doing things that benefit themselves at the expense of humanity…
The most common response is akin to: “Well, yeah, but how can you expect anything else from them?”
Sorry, what… how can we… not expect them to act in the interests of humanity? Nope. Doesn’t wash with me. When we talk like that, we’re enabling their bullshit. We’re actually treating them as victims. And they are anything but.
We don’t let a rapist off the hook by saying “Well, what did you expect? He likes raping!” So how is this any different? Why do we let the people who wish to destroy the best parts of humanity for their own selfish purposes get away with it? Because they’re rich? Because they’re CEO of a company? Because they have a lot of lawyers?
When Zuckerberg takes daily action against the interests of the human race, he has a choice not to at every step. Let’s not pretend he doesn’t. Because that just lets him off the hook.
It’s not evil to be a billionaire. But it is evil to do evil. And evil is always a choice.
Be the change
I can’t just leave it there, with me slagging off the rich and powerful. For one, I don’t believe that most of the rich and powerful are doing evil – it is a small minority.
But also because other than refusing to use their products and services, or vote for them, it can feel as though there is little we can do in the face of such evil. But there is. There is so much.
Start by being the change you want to see in the world.
Because really, how dare you rally against what you see as the immorality of the people on top if you yourself don’t live with integrity? If – when faced with the choice of whether to good or evil – you don’t choose good, what right do you have to challenge anybody else?
Just as at any point along the way, Zuckerberg et al could have said “Let’s do something awesome for humanity instead of just pretending to…” you get to decide how you’re going to live. Which direction your compass is going to face.
Don’t pretend you’re backed into a corner, or forced to do things you disagree with. The road will be uncomfortable, and likely full of conflict – you will scare people and they will try to pull you back into the bucket like the good crabs they are.
But you will have your feet planted firmly in the real world. And that, my friend, is priceless.
You don’t have to accept the fake fruit Silicon Valley wants to feed you. You always have a choice. Start exercising it.