Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Problems Update, June 2016 (Part One)

Periodically I enjoy reporting on the world’s problems. I mean the real problems, as opposed to the distractions preferred by our Galtian masters. You know the ones that I mean. I don’t mean Mr. Trump either; that problem will sort itself out before it even achieves real problem status. 

No, I’m talking about . . .

The Jobs Problem

Real jobs have been disappearing from the industrialized world at an ever increasing rate for decades already. At the same time, populations in most industrialized countries have been increasing. So, let’s see now, there are more and more people and fewer and fewer jobs. That’s a problem. It’s a very big problem, because the jobs that were lost are not coming back.

Automation; robotics; computers . . . all of these things have taken over for human workers in many fields in recent decades. That process will continue, and it will probably accelerate to include fields that were once considered safe for human workers. In five years, we’ll be calling for self-driving Uber cars, and the taxi drivers will join so many other workers on the trash heap of history.

The number of full time jobs these days, jobs with benefits like health insurance, vacations and funded retirements, has shrunk right down to a precious few. More people than ever are making due with one, two or even three part-time jobs that don’t even pay overtime. Even a so-called “education” doesn’t protect the modern worker.

The response so far from the powers-that-be has been to throw some smallish social programs at the “no jobs” problem. That and pit groups of people against one another in a manufactured competition for the jobs that do still exist. The first of these will never be anything but a pathetic Band-Aid approach; the second will lead to one of several kinds of explosions, which could range from mere noise-making to the use of piano wire and hooks.

Even leaving out the problem of a living wage, this shrinkage in available jobs is going to be a terrible problem before long.

The Internet Problem

I read articles on the Internet about how the Internet is making people dumber. Not just the Internet itself, but also the entire digital environment of games, apps and social media across all platforms. The quality of written language is suffering as people substitute shorter, less grammatical sentences for what they should be writing. I know that it’s true.

Sometimes even the articles describing that process are very brief, conclusory and written in bad, typo-ridden English. Thus proving their own point.

I feel blessed to be inclined to write longer pieces like this post. In fact, I enjoy writing like this. (Disclaimer: my writing style on this blog is not quite academic, and I do take liberties with grammar on occasion. I try to keep it a bit on the light and conversational side. So bear that in mind, and bear in mind that I know it.) I do notice, however, that when I send a Line message to a friend, or when I comment on Facebook, I must always remind myself to include a subject and make proper sentences, with proper punctuation. Sometime, I fear, I fail to remind myself in time, so I’m contributing to the dumbing down of our culture even as I’m struggling to save it with my blog posts. What can I do, though? We are all creatures of our times.

One thing for sure about the Internet: it’s making people crazier. It’s making people more isolated, less discriminating, less sociable and less reasonable. The Internet allows people to seal themselves in echo-chambers with only other people who share certain views. These self-reinforcing information loops comfort the kind of individuals that feel as though they have been cast adrift by modernity. They are also comforting for individuals who are desperate for some illusion that they understand what is going on in the world. All of this is silly, of course, and none of it represents any real understanding at all. It also tends to foster and encourage extremism of one kind or another, and there’s nothing silly about that. People are getting killed behind this shit.

Finally, the Internet has created an army of monsters who believe that they are well informed. All that they have done is to fill up their heads with information of dubious value, which is limited to some narrow point of view that was decided for them by someone else, but they honestly believe that they are fully and correctly informed about the state of the world. They hold these beliefs with a rock-solid certainty. That’s always a bad sign. I mean, beyond knowing your own name, and that two plus two equals four, 100% certainty is hard to justify.

I read those Websites, and I read the comment sections, too. These acolytes learn strategies for attacking “non-believers” in comment threads, either on their own favored sites, or sites featuring opposing political/cultural views, or on some poor Schmo’s unsuspecting Facebook page. “What have you done?” “On what do you base your opinion?” “Where did you get that information?” “Please provide me with facts to back up your statement.” The true paranoid in political matters is always a faux academic.

It’s not funny, although frequently I do find it all funny. Mostly though, I find it very dangerous.  

(Let’s call this, “Part One.” It’s already four times the recommended word limit for a blog post.) 

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