Friday, May 24, 2013

The Ground State of Society

I'm a fan of science fiction, but one thing that confounds/irks me is how every time a society is presented that has some aspect that seems superior (i.e. utopia, technology, etc), there is always a 'dark side' that more than counter-balances it.  The message seems to be "the status quo is the best".

I suspect that this partially arises from a desire to, well, not be depressed that our world is the way it is, and there's not much we, as individuals, can do to change it.

The delusion "this is the way our society evolved, therefore it must be right," does gain some credence in the fact that 'right' and 'wrong' in a judgmental sense are defined by society itself.  It's a circular trap that we are stuck in, and cannot escape, because it is the 'ground state', and the 'energy' it would take to get out is more than any individual or easily organized group of individuals can provide.

Society, much like, say, genes, evolved in a way based on what traits (traditions, beliefs, etc.) were more conducive to survival (in a societal sense as well as a physical sense) at the time.  There were outside influences, such as climate, natural disasters, diseases, etc., that helped determined which traits won out.  But as medicine, technology, and the like improved, we've come to a point where the dominant controller of how society develops is society itself.

Of course, the rise of the internet has had some major impacts on society, and, as companies like Google have proven, those who ride the tide of change, who adapt themselves and innovate rather than fight against it are the ones who will come out on top.  (More on the economic topic in future posts...maybe)

The internet lowers the 'energy' cost of communicating, of organizing.  Although some parts seem to be governed by the uglier aspects of human nature, there are also parts governed by (what I think at least) are the 'good' parts, the parts that may allow for actual change to occur, like the desire to share information, to care about what's happening in the world as a whole.

My ultimate hope?  That we can live in a world where we can be the people we want to be, do the things that make use feel alive, and still live.  Maybe someday...