Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Digital Apocalypse: How the Information Age Scares the Shit Out of Us

It's 1991. I'm at my mom's for the weekend, and her partner is up, chain smoking Moore Lights, and listening to Art Bell. The house is dark, and the silent, intense droning of Art Bell and his guests fills the trailer home with fucking DREAD.

"Who is this?" I ask quietly, my eyes peeled on her smoking visage as she casts the only shadow in the house because of a small desk lamp next to her.

"Art Bell. Quiet," she says in that husky, serious voice I immediately obey.

Fucking Art Bell, man. That dude could scare the shit out of me and I had no clue what he was talking about. All I knew was that the world was about 5 minutes from cracking in half, and the only thing to be done was to sit in a dark kitchen and chain-smoke, listening to the details and hushing interruptions.

I grew up in an apocalyptic religious sect, so end of the world stuff was nothing new to me. I had some gnarly nightmares growing up. But Art Bell could add a gravitas to it that beat out Gawd.

But that was just on the radio. I heard Art Bell once in a great while. I wasn't constantly connected to the information. I got away from it, the apocalypse ebbed.

Then came the information age, and holy shit did doom floweth.

I love the internet. It is basically a new human appendage, well beyond anything we have ever built. That doesn't mean it's not sometimes a pain in the ass. Information increases exponentially every year, not insight, necessarily, but information.

Combine this increase of information with our culture's fascination with its own demise, and you get some scared ass mother fuckers. In virtual reality as in conventional reality, there is a natural human tendency to group with those of a like mind. As such, we can exponentially magnify our cultural mythologies of doom, making them seem more real, more immediate, and often more terrifying.

Since many of us are quite aware of the unsustainable nature of civilization, there is a tendency to reinforce those beliefs, especially within ourselves. Personally, I believe we have some great social opportunities in the information age, in fact, I believe the internet can play a fundamental part in creating a free, sustainable and decentralized society.

If you're feeling scared or uncertain, remember: apocalypse is a part of our culture. Civilization is unsustainable and way deep down we remember this. It permeates our mythologies past and present.

Transition may very well be upon us, and we can make it our best yet.

Now, watch this shit and laugh:

The Complete Guide to the Future from Everything Is Terrible! on Vimeo.

EMBED-Apocalypse! - Watch more free videos

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