Towards the end of this year we’ve been hearing about controversy surrounding safe spaces, and the way they’ve apparently been used to damage free speech by placing the hurt feelings of college students above freedom of expression. And I’m sure we’re all familiar with a meme that was recently spread around the internet that basically said today’s college kids were wimps compared to young men who fought in World War II. I watched a video from Thomas LeRoy titled ‘Millennials and Victim Mentality‘, where he talks about victim mentality in today’s college students, and the fall of academia in America, all before asking “what’s become of humankind?”. It was an interesting question, and I think there may be a trinity of factors at work.
The first of these is technology. As we have advanced as a species, we have have progressed technologically to the point that machines make our lives a lot easier than they were before, for the most part anyway. We’ve also invented ways to communicate with each other more easily. However, we’ve also becoming too attached to technology, we’re replacing humanity with artificial life (just look at the rise of sex robots if you want to know just how close we are to that point), and we are almost at a point where are not the masters of technology that we might think we are. And despite that we as a species look forward and never back when it comes to technology, I don’t think most of us will be foresighted enough to see the consequences coming before it’s too late. Then, in conjunction with that, through social media technology we have increasingly become more connected, but we’re also wantonly open to attachment to those connections and to people even when they simply come and go. We’ve derived too much satisfaction from approval of peers and now we want more, and it’s hard to fight and let go of completely. The only way to be truly unaffected is to live in total isolation from your fellow man, and for almost everyone on the planet this is impossible for practical reasons. Our connectivity has become too useful. Like with technology in general, it never occurs to us that social media is just a tool for our own ends, not the end itself. Technology is a tool for our benefit, but we don’t realize this, we lose most of our consciousness and become tools ourselves. And then, there’s the fact that we have become soft and sensitive. It’s often said that we’re increasingly desensitized in our day and age, but in my mind that’s more to do with us being desensitized to things we don’t see as real. In the real world, however, we can be pretty sensitive and soft. We allow political correctness to creep in at the expense of liberty, and we’d rather ban people saying offensive things than just tell people who say them to go fuck themselves. We see it recently with Facebook deleting posts by Donald Trump’s supporters, but not Trump himself, and with universities banning certain individuals from speaking at their campuses. We only hear what we want to hear, because we’re too soft and sensitive and we freak out when someone says something we don’t like, and the world around us is directly facilitating this over-sensitivity. Even though we can just block people who say things we don’t like, we’d rather social media get rid of everything we find offensive. It’s fine to be offended, even to feel disgusted with someone’s views if you find them egregious enough (and usually that’s the views of Donald Trump or ISIL), but not to use that disgust as a justification to silence the intelligence or free expression of human beings.
And I’ll tell you something else that may or may not be incidental: we often talk really hardcore and seem big and tough over the internet, but we’re often not like that outside of that. I remember this was observed by one of my lecturers at university when we were called up about that horrible argument we had over character design that ended up getting nastier before spilling into the real world.
The trinity set against mankind is thus: technology, connectivity, and security. We always look forward with technology, never back, and we do so at the expense of our identity as a species, we give ourselves to the connectivity offered by social media, because we derive too much satisfaction from it, and we want a world that’s too safe, too closed, and too insular. We are facilitating the transformation of humanity from the tough, resilient, dominant species into a waste of a species.
And honestly, I don’t know if our course as a species is going to change from that direction. Because we always look forward, and never stop to reflect, even though we have the choice and capability. So long as our world moves too fast for us, this may yet be the fate of humanity, set by humanity itself.