What is natural anymore?
It seems a hot topic to discuss the entire life cycle of an Apple, or what percentage of the female population has resorted to breast implants. And when they do, it is often discussed what materials are used in the procedure. Or maybe the shoes she had on during the procedure…
We live in a strange time where baseball and basketball players receive millions of dollars every year to play a game, but our space program has been cancelled. Facebook is valued at more than its worth on Wall Street and everyone knows it. Recently, Instagram sold for one billion dollars. Peak oil has been breached. We are concerned with gas prices, but unaware the supply dwindles. Still we manufacture trucks and SUVs. They go faster, their great big noisy engines work harder to break themselves apart than ever before. Still we worry ourselves with taxes and insurance rates. Still we eat fast food. Not natural.
We are taking heightened risks as a specie every single day. The emphasis we place on the machines of war and the abstract notions of finance will need to be displaced. Eventually our focus must switch to the proverbial fifth gear of sustainability. It is no longer a matter of if there will be a great collapse. It is a matter of when.
Sustainability is more than just a simple allocation of resources. It is more than keeping a record of who does what when and where or diagrams of use. It is more than communication. It is more than politics or the circular arguments of observation. It is about co-existence. It is about understanding our place within a greater context. Our concept of co-existence has been so externalized into our systems of religion–see ‘the greater good’–and communication–see facebook–or entertainment–see video games–that there is a new phenomenon developing. We now must make the choice about what we do and do not sample as a specie. In much the same way the book was once a luxury of the wealthiest in our societies, so our current systems of entertainment and communication have become. What will you choose to participate in during your lifetime?
We are developing relationships with these systems in the sense that they are friends. We can choose to sample all of them, but not get the full experience of any. Or we can choose to sample none and be disconnected from a large portion of the actual human population. Who will be our pen pals tomorrow? And we have even begun to label these massive multinational global entities called companies as people. Perhaps it is because some of them have become so big that we are unsure of exactly what to do with them, or how to categorize them.
Many of us become aware of these artificial phenomenon on a constant basis. Some know it as an intellectual concept, something to be discussed and thought about and pondered and rolled over on tongues and through ear canals.
Some of us seem more jacked in than others. Turn your television on for five minutes. See what the news entails nowadays. Find out what is happening via Twitter. Learn of a subject by Stumbling upon it. Keep up with friends via Facebook, but heaven forbid they call you and have you over for tea one afternoon. Forget about a beer on Friday evening. Use wikipedia. Look up that word date. It’s a great place to start…
Our communication systems have been hijacked by an apparatus that is concerned with documentation and the manufacture of a docile specie through the numbing of the populace. It might be a very real and observable dose of novocaine to distract the majority from something they should be focusing on. The paranoids and the addicts might not be as crazy as we think. It might also simply be a side effect of overdose of certain needs of our specie. Observable traits resulting from this overdose might be emotional disconnect, increased tendencies towards risk-taking to feel something, anything.
Those that are not enjoying the entertainment will be labeled as eccentric or worse still, ill. Please do not pull aside the curtain. It is distracting.
Now it is considered abnormal to not have a smart phone or a facebook page or a twitter account. The systems in place to see those products and narratives into your hands and at your constant disposal take up more resources than they put back in to the world. Any critique of these systems of mass communication is mostly greeted with a blank stare and a saddened frown. At its worst, the reaction can be openly hostile and personally aggressive. You’re holding up the line, asshole.
So I ask again, what is natural? What is our nature? Is our very concept of the organic so lost that the next natural evolution of the specie would be to manufacture our entire mind into an artificial structure beyond our current supercomputers? Will the metaphorical Skynet become a reality?
Marshall McLuhan spoke of externalizing our central nervous system through a power grid (connected by wires and power lines and transformers, etc.). The natural conclusion to this process would be to manufacture a center of the central nervous system, a brain. Perhaps this brain will be able to wade through the mountains of problems we have created as cells in this giant organism.
Perhaps our problems will breed with one another to create bigger ones. Will we take up the mantle as stewards of an organic world and learn to coexist with our physical environment, or we will continue to be the only specie capable of innovating itself out of any relationship to its physicality? Are we the only specie capable of manufacturing our own discontent? And perhaps even, our own destruction?