The Upgrade Problem

Recently I watched Out Of Africa, a beautiful film (1985, Best Picture). The movie is based on the true life adventure of the Danish (Isak Dinesen) author’s time in Africa during World War I. In the movie Meryl Streep muses, “Perhaps earth was made round so we wouldn’t see too far down the road.” I thought, That’s it in a nutshell. “It” being what ails humans today –  we have made the earth flat.

The Flat Earth

has come to be because of technology. Now we have the means, not only to see, but hear as well, everything and anything that is happening anywhere on earth; and that is overwhelming. We did not evolve in this context, and are not equipped to deal with so much instant information.

Our Five Senses

evolved as they did to engender survival on a round planet, with no knowledge of what was beyond the horizon. In other words, to solve proximate problems. Only.

It’s only very recently that we’ve come to have the means to send messages and see what anyone or anything was doing outside of what our senses informed us. Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch work together to allow us to live together in a relatively small area, space, or territory. That’s it. Those senses have not changed, or upgraded, for perhaps sixty-thousand years. They are “Stone-Age”, biological adaptations. We are not programed to fly.

Not wired for this

Jet lag is real. Flying fast to a place beyond our sense capacity is disorienting. Some people adjust better than others.

An upgrade, via natural selection, would mean that those not disoriented by fast travel across time zones would reproduce more than those who suffer. That’s how populations change genetically. Those who have traits/qualities that enhance operational demand characteristics have more offspring and eventually, the less adapted extinct.

There is no evidence (that I know of) that that is happening. Our senses remain what they have been for millennia. I’m not aware of any evidence suggesting that fast adapters (or early adopters) reproduce at higher rates than slow adapters.

Because, biologically, the verdict is still out. It may be that technology becomes our downfall. Or extinction accelerant.

The Evidence

so far is overwhelming. I offer a short list of Modern Problems. [Ha! That was a class I took in high school (1968), of which none of the below were mentioned.]

  1. Maladaptive daydreams
  2. Selective mutism
  3. Dissociation
  4. Splitting (Multiple personalities)
  5. Social anxiety
  6. FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  7. Depression
  8. Panic attacks
  9. Bulimia
  10. Anorexia
  11. Alcoholism
  12. Obesity
  13. Drug addiction
  14. Fibromyalgia
  15. Long COVID
  16. Insomnia
  17. Rejection sensitivity
  18. Maladaptive bibliophile
  19. Hyper masculinity
  20. Hyper victimology
  21. Hopelessness
  22. Powerlessness
  23. Health care facility
    Health care free and open space

    Two pictures taken on the same day of where people are. The first is of a rehab facility, the second of open space. The two spaces adjoin each other. One is popular, the other not.

The Age Of Despair

is where we are. I witness it everyday on my walks and from my observation post (my balcony). It’s not that some of these problems didn’t exist (in the Stone Age), however, they were dealt with differently. (Don’t ask.)

Alright. You might have been burned at the stake! So not all modernity is maladaptive. Or … ? Just kidding.

The Point Is

we’ve solved some problems but created others. All without knowing what-the-fuck we’re doing. Moreover, to the point, WHO ARE WE?

Okay, how can we know who we are without knowing “who I am?” And now, because of upgrades, I’ve got millions and billions of others to compare and contrast myself with. How do I measure up?

Who Decides

is the essential question. The king? [THE queen (of England) just died.]

Oh, it’s how many clicks/views/likes I get on my (YouTube) channel, or blog (WordPress or Substack), or some constantly upgraded social platform (TicTock, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), Goodreads.) What are you doing?

Follow The Money

or not? “They” have changed the essence of money, or currency.

Used to be back in the Stone Age, currency was food. And water, and shelter from the storm. Now “They” tap letters and numbers on a keyboard which determines WHO YOU ARE. What you are worth. Who are “They”?

Is it all just a calculation?

4 thoughts on “The Upgrade Problem

  1. I think you’re on to something, bro. I’m afraid to think of all the malware the youngest generation will develop, having had a flat world phone almost since birth. I love “Out of Africa,” which happens to have one of the most haunting, beautiful soundtracks ever.

  2. Indeed. Contrary to the age-old notion that “nothing changes; there’s nothing new under the sun”, never in human history have so many been so connected. Marshall McLuhan’s global village has arrived. As a tool-using species, we’re victims of our own reproductive success. Almost seven billion people, all, as you suggest, in sight.

  3. Yes – “so connected” and yet so sad. “Everybody knows the boat is leaking. Everybody knows the captain lied.” Yet pretends otherwise. We’ve made a mess of things – as a tool making species.

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