Thursday, December 6, 2012

pardon my optimism, but...

i think a lot about where things are going.  not in the abstract philosophical sense, but all the different elements that make up our societies.  politics, entertainment, logistics, ideas, and ideals.  you can see a lot of it being tracked on different web sites, as what's 'trending.'

it's not just what's popular, or best selling, but trending.  that is, the emphasis has changed, to focus on the velocity, not just the position.  it almost seems like an evolutionary step, what would seem to be the more pragmatic way to go.  given an intellect sufficient to succeed at making predictions.  is that more the case, these days?

you can see it especially in the younger generations, sites which cater more to their demographics.  for example, atheism.  i've seen a lot of references suggesting that it is increasing, gradually, up to 10-20% or so of people, these days.  still, a drastic minority, if you're lumping all theists together.

reading comments by younger people these days though, you'd think atheism were the norm, by a sizable margin.  Much the way it appeared that Obama would win by more of a landslide than most polls seemed to indicate.  It seems that the internet is tracking people so effectively, it can be the best way to figure out where society is going, in all sorts of ways.  people who aren't on the internet?  these are the people who are becoming less and less relevant, and will basically die out.  like going back a few hundred years, people who don't learn how to write, or going back hundreds of thousands of years, people who didn't learn how to speak.

It occurs to me that this might just be what humanity does.  Efficiency of communication may be a key part of that, but this could even be the same biological imperative that protected us from the elements, way back when cavemen were trying to figure out how to get a fire going for the first time.  I'd even bet that there were other people there, yelling and fighting, to stop them from doing it.  (aka filibustering?) People who couldn't get past their primitive fears, and couldn't imagine how change could possibly be a good thing.  This could even be related to imagination, at its pinnacle, the spark that gets innovation started, but something a great many people have very little of.

I think humanity is naturally progressive. We have to fight for it, every step of the way, but we've been taking one step after another, ever since we left the stone age.  It would be comical that there are so many people that are against it, if it didn't get so brutal.  These are people who are essentially against progress. It is, by its very definition, the losing side to be on.

It's interesting that despite our entire history of social evolution, this sizable segment of anti-progressives seems to remain.  As if there's code in our DNA, that never gets weeded out.  Maybe a certain equilibrium is actually beneficial to us, as a species.  That is, there could be a direct correlation between this mental deficiency in a significant subset of society, and their capacity to either help us survive, or proliferate - more than we would without them.

Numerous possibilities there, really, but I'm more interested in a larger issue here though, the premise that we do socially evolve.  Not just genetically, physically, but as if there's a fundamental mechanism for social progress built into us, as well.  We've been doing it forever.  If you think the 1950's were bad, just imagine what the 1450s were like.  I think it's pretty clear, this social evolution is an inherent part of being human.

It's something we've always had to fight like hell for, though.  There's always been conflict, and setbacks, but overall, as a species, we keep going forward.  Maybe needing to fight for it is part of what keeps it going, or makes it more effective, but it's a fight we always win.  Just tends to take a few thousand years.

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