It’s tough at the moment. The constant threat of a world war looms with an unhinged President in Trump and equally unhinged leader in Kim-Jong Un. Brexit is only set up to be a disaster.
And if we look at human history, here’s some things that give me some confidence that things will be ok. Warning. This may be more optimistic than you may want.
Through nearly every significant moment of history, we have improved as a human race. Very rarely were in a position where we haven’t progressed since the Dark Ages.
We have enough checks and balances in place that public institutions, media and regulatory bodies will mostly mostly remain impartial and serve society as opposed to political leanings. Yes, there is a lot of worrying fascist and other rhetoric, but mostly the structures we have in society will protect us against any one person or persons leading us down dark paths as we’ve known them before.
We have the benefit of the present and of legislation to help us know what is morally and ethically defensible. We’ve never had that level of insight before. It means we can and do stand up for things in society in ways that we have never been able to before. Yes that means confronting some really dark social ills currently, and I have faith we’ll come out the right side of it all, because as people we’re good at doing that.
Regardless of your political leanings, over the last 20-30 years, each government has helped us do and be better as people. Yes there have been systemic choices which disadvantage some and advantage others, but we are still a better society than we were in the mid 1900’s.
Social media platforms will get better at what they do. If they don’t, people will just stop using them. Remember the old days of ICQ, Friends Reunited, Yahoo Messenger and those others? They were successful up to a point. Then they stopped. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will get there. And if they don’t, other platforms will come along which offer something better. We never knew we needed those platforms until they existed. We won’t know we’ll need the next platform until it’s here too.
The rate at which technology is being developed and improving human living is astonishing. Just like ten years ago we never thought we’d need data scientists or social media directors or app designers we don’t know what jobs will be needed in the next ten years either. And at every step, the tech will help us be better. Because, again, humans are good at figuring out how to implement the right kind of tech for the right kinds of reasons.
So, yes, we can be sidetracked by the things that take our attention. And we can get riled up by them. And we can feel despondent and enraged. And we can and should take up political, societal and identity based stances. Our challenges of today are no different to the challenges of yesteryear – How do I live well? How do I make meaning in my life and for others? How do I help myself and others to grow? These are the questions we’ve always been searching answers for.
But things will be ok. It may take longer than we may want. In some cases like Trump and Brexit we don’t have a choice but to wait for a number of years. And once that time has passed, further decisions need to be made for things to progress and be corrected. But we’ll get there. Because as people, we’re pretty good at doing that.