One of the later phases of technological society is the era of consumerism. I often feel that it is consumerism that did the most damage. It is through consumerism that technological society most effected humanity. It is through consumerism that it most disrupted and altered us as well. Consumerism turned the technological beast into everyone’s homes and life’s, affecting our whole being.
I consider the consumer era as really beginning in the 1950’s in the U.S. From there, it seems, the history of the U.S. seems to be one example of social failure after another.
Consumer society has the same irony that the older technological society had. It’s all stuff meant to help us. It was all created with a good intention, as were many inventions and scientific discoveries. But yet they have disrupted and undermined so many things and have proven their destructive side. It creates a dilemma, what I sometimes call the ‘Technological Irony’.
I’ve found that many discussions about technology, the modern world, consumerism, etc. tend to revolve around this ironic dilemma. Typically, people take either one side or the other. One side says only the good, emphasizing how it has helped everyone. Another says only the bad, emphasizing the problems it’s caused. The point of view they take seems to depend on their character and mentality.
But the thing that must be done with this ironic dilemma, and which is very difficult to do, is to take a well-rounded view. The fact of the matter is that technological society has done good and it has done bad. In a sense that almost cancels its effects out. In my point of view it does. The question is not whether it’s done all good or bad but what it has done overall.
What makes technological society so different from everything else is its power and influence. Never have things been so easily destroyed as now. Never have things been so threatened as now. Never has there been so much disruption as now. Never has there been so much control as now. Never has our lives been so dictated by something as now. Never before has our future depended on a ‘something’. This thing is so powerful that its control is determining the fate of many things in the world.
The question, in a way, becomes, “is it good to have something of this power hovering over the world?” My feeling is that this is the real damage and threat of this beast. Personally, I’d rather not have this power hovering over me, no matter what good it gave me.
Right now this power is practically blind. No one really has control over it (except for aspects of it). And, if we did, would we be able to control it in a wise way? I think not. By itself it has too much power. With human help it has too much power, as no one is really wise enough to control it.
This power, I believe, is given life by humanity. It is not a result of one person, nor is it for one person. Humanity gives it life.
As a result, a big influence on technological society and its power is the effect of overpopulation. In many ways, it is this that feeds and sustains the technological beast. Consumerism is one of the primary ways the technological society gets such a hold on the population. It gives it incredible power and influence.
The masses of people now depend on the technological beast to feed it, clothe it, and maintain it. What this means is that the technological society must be maintained and developed in order to sustain everyone. We’re basically locked into it now. It also means there’s not much chance to try to change things.
Because of this, technological society, like a drug, has become an addiction, something we cannot remove ourselves from. There is no rehab program for this type of addiction.
But what other choices are there now? What other alternatives are there but to have technological society maintain the world?
I see this as a dilemma. I also see the inevitable . . . further immersion into the technological society.
But how far can it go? Can it continue like this forever?
The problem is that the technological beast and overpopulation are like a worm eating away at the earth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that one day this will fail, the world will not be able to sustain a continually growing humanity.
What will happen when it fails? Most of the world will have been ‘converted’ to technological society, depending on and addicted to it. They will no longer have a culture and way of life rooted in the real world as everyone will be brought up in an artificial reality. They will also have a system that they depend on to do everything for them and give them things. The masses will be unprepared for any other alternative. I can see the possibility of a great crisis happening.
I fear that, in the end, technological society is going to be one of the great disasters in history despite all its promises of a ‘better life’.
(I wrote this in about 2009)