How We Arrived Here

October 15, PBS started a new series called “How We Got to Now.” It is a series about how simple but extremely important ideas made our current society possible. The premier researched the idea of ‘clean’ as in the need for clean streets, clean drinking water and many other comforts and technologies dependent on clean environments.

As regular readers may know, the mariner is vacillating about maintaining his blog. In his last post (What should we care about?), the mariner cashed his chips and turned the fate of the world over to the gods. That fate remains with them; the mariner has donned a fatalist’s cloak. Somehow Doris Day made fatalism appear attractive when she sang Que Sera Sera. In reality, the cloak is a drab color. Nevertheless, there are no questions to answer and no expectations.

How the mariner got to fatalism is the question in this post.

In the last 170 years we have sailed a course worthy of Jason and his Argonauts. While every discipline imaginable shared in the shape and direction of our course, the mariner believes communication has had the greatest influence.

Just a few quick touchstones: Ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. We do it because we can. Nothing in life is free. America; home of the free. The war to end all wars. Google. Yahoo. Microsoft. Netflix. Cable tv. Satellites. Hulu. Cell Phones. In a category all to itself, Internet.

Throw in day-to-day accounting of people losing their homes by the millions. Ineffective, greedy government. Beheaded journalists. A nonexistent recovery for anyone making less than $75,000 annually. Every fire of any size anywhere in the world along with every drought, every flood, every hurricane. Being forced to watch news programs showing how everyone except the top 10% of citizens grows poorer every year.

Dying ash trees. Increasingly colder winters and hotter summers. Crop status. Blood test results. Overstated scares about Ebola. Football concussions. We must evaluate the foreign policy of every country in the world whether we want to or not. Crazy news journalists with no regard for truth, taste or moral obligation to the viewer.

Had enough? Not only must you handle too much information, everyone else knows your information as well. Now, cloud technology will take from you the last bastion of privacy – your information will not reside on your computer but in a commercial, for profit data base.

I fear the demise of crocheting, reading paper newspapers, substantive education that enforces higher moral values for all citizens – including the knowledge to activate those moral values.

These touchstones are merely the foundation of a new age that goes far beyond the book 1984 except that uniforms will not be required. Jeans will suffice. Still, modern forms of slavery will become entrenched. There is nothing that can stop this nonsense and still we must be reminded of all of it from television, papers, cable, and, of all things, as if deliberately paradoxical, we will be able to view only information that data controllers want us to know.

The mariner gives up. Only the gods can right the ship. He feels his single ballot is useless to stem the tide. His age and energy prevent him from stirring the blood that was present when he was a young activist.

Sailing away to visit information-deficient places in the world sounds very healing to the mariner. And to put up his feet under a palm tree in some underdeveloped country (read minimal information capability) may heal wounds.

“Live in Donnellson,” my learned wife says. “It would not be hard to be an isolationist as well as a fatalist.” Ah, if there were only palm trees and open water….

Ancient Mariner

4 thoughts on “How We Arrived Here

  1. Wizened wife? If you aren’t careful you may end up as a fatality as well as a fatalist!! I’m quite sure you meant to say ‘wise old wife…!’

    Perhaps you could get a screensaver of palm trees and open water while you put up your feet in your heated shed in Donnellson, an underdeveloped region if ever there was one.

  2. You should have given Costa Rica a shot a few years back, it’s basically nothing but Donnellsons (Donalsoñas?) lined up between the palm trees and the sea.

    And you wouldn’t be able to get CNN … or Ebola.

  3. A trip to Costa Rica is in the near future. I haven’t watched CNN for almost a year, though other news channels still get through. Thanks for the response, Ace.

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