Sunday, August 6, 2017

".. search for national solidarity may well cause right-wingers to invoke the top-down, big-government models of the Left."; "...flirts with nativism and protectionism ..."; "..outrageous ethno-nationalism on the alt-right fringe..."

 

Those are phrases clipped from a single article in The National Review, which is a conservative Republican magazine known for its jingoism and for its refutation of broad cultural correctness. I used quotations from that magazine out of convenience of my own and not for making any kind of political point (at least not this time). I am not interested in getting examples from the left, but I know that their press is as bad.

The point I am trying to illustrate is that the written articles and TV have become politically polarized to a degree never before present in our public dialogue. We are on the verge of breaking ourselves apart.

 

But that isn't all. This writer, a poor Stodgy Old White Man (SOWM – I've been wanting to make up an acronym for years), sees the future rushing at him at a pace that increases in speed by the day. The public dialogue about politics within the United States is only a small portion of the huge problem we face. Every single aspect of civilization is undergoing cataclysmic change.

 

In social structure, as an example, the way our generations are separated by cultural differences has become an issue which crosses the boundaries of any left versus right dispute. This article in the Atlantic poses insoluble problems.

That article illustrates a point of cataclysmic change. My generation, the baby boomers, has very little in common with the people who will inherit the civilization that we have created. Some of this cultural change has been done intentionally by the forces on the left, but the greatest changes seem to be coming from technology and the poorly understood effects that it will have on young people steeped in its use.

The newest generation, dubbed the iGen by the author of that article, is characterized by a very different set of behavioral norms than any of the previous groups who have come forth in our country. While previous generations differed from one another, they maintained a fairly consistent trait: they were out to prove their difference from all who had come before.

iGen members are not like this. They seem very introverted and, as a result, are more self-servingly alone to the point of being suicidal. Their attention is concentrated on their phones. The world has never been viewed by a group of young people so inwardly directed ever before.

We of course do not know yet what the effects will be, but they cannot be good. This is probably a phenomenon that is present in all first world countries. It is interesting that only in the 'Third World' – where there is less access to technology – will young people come to maturity in the way that humanity always has.

It is only the 'haves' who will be affected. The 'have-nots' will go blissfully about their business, completely unaware of the unfathomable cultural differences between them and the technologically advanced. This type of difference between generations and cultures has never occurred before.

And this is not a good thing.

Heretofore, we have always been able to see and understand the things that separate us. When the British of the 15th or 16th century confronted African tribes who existed at a Stone Age level, they were presented with tech-nological differences no greater than the ones that will be experienced by iGen members as they try to assimilate into the overall culture in which they live.

This assimilation will begin to take place within the next decade. The creation of the iGen by the smartphone, iPad, and the whole new generation of electronic communication devices, began about 12 or 14 years ago, and has created a total upheaval of our society. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and other manifestations of the smartphone are now with us, permanently. They cannot be undone.

We have no idea, no concept, of the way that this seachange will affect society and our perceptions of the importance of things in the future. Nobody knows, or ever has known, what the future will bring. But now we are faced with the same sort of chasm that the Borneo man did not suspect when he encountered his first white face.

Unknowns are unknown.