When Progress Replaces Culture

When trying to understand human behavior, I believe it is important to run it through a 200,000 year old filter.  The hardware Homo-sapiens are walking around in is at very least that old.  For much of our evolutionary history (approx. 185,000 years) we were nomadic hunter and gathers before we became agrarians 15,000 years ago.  Post-industrial humans are a very recent development. While we may be advancing technologically at ever increasing and exponential rates, we advance biologically, socially and psychologically much, much slower.  Never-the-less, modern humans confuse technological advances, be it air travel or birth control, as proof that we are more civilized.

 “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”

While proud of some aspects of our species, I do not give us that much credit.  I see us as barely removed from ape.  While a few humans, very few, are extraordinary and innovative in science, arts and technology, the teaming masses are rather unimpressive.  In fact, all of our technological advances seem to highlight this.  Take for instance the internet and computing.  We now have access to almost all humanity’s stored knowledge at our finger tips, yet 25% of daily searches are for porn, not to mention all of the inane celebrity news and infotainment, which I suspect is only its early stages. While we are still struggling with curing many of the world’s infectious diseases, we have long mastered birth control, boner pills and boob jobs.  It seems that whatever the advancement may be, it ultimately finds a common use to further satisfy our baser desires.  We even celebrate these technological advances that open possibilities to express these desires as progressive social change.  Yea! we can now justify being fat, lazy, violent and promiscuous at exceedingly unprecedented levels.   We are so f*cking progressive!  Tell me why again we are more depressed, unhealthy, confused, isolated and angry?

As I drive around this decrepit outmoded landscape of strip malls, tract housing, crumbling infrastructure and environmental degradation that feeds our needless consumption, I can’t but help to think that all of this “progress” is trap.  While we look to technology and policy to create positive change, we have forgotten that it is culture that is the pinnacle of human achievement.  What does our culture say about us?

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