Humans were never exposed to such quantity of content. Since the 50’s, we have created more historical content than the whole human species in the previous centuries. It’s all frozen somewhere on a server and this massive time machine is now available to virtually anyone with Internet.
I don’t know why I’m obsessed by this. But my deep question is:
How populations evolved with less references to the past?
What is in the head of a person in 1400? What is the destiny you’re visualising when you know nothing about the past? When the past is blurry, full of mystery, religion, wars? Of course, the knowledge was spread with books. But not everyone were able to read them and even less were able to understand them correctly. So imagination was probably more present in people heads. That made the world a messy place where few people agreed on their vision of life. Many wars happened because of different visions (and economic interest). Was it safe and good? Certainly not everywhere. But at least it was evolving because evolution comes from tension. There was more space inside people minds. Less overhead. More focus.
Now that I live in Barcelona and surrounded by historical buildings, I always wonder what could motivate people to create such crazy things. They had a dream, they were building for the future, they were not distracted. Distractions existed but they were explicitly chosen. Wanna some fun? Go to a bar and get wasted. No one cares. No pictures. But with a phone in your pocket, you’re not in control of your distractions anymore.
In France, our parents were often saying to us “Eux au moins, ils n’avaient pas la PlayStation !” (translation: “They didn’t have a PlayStation at this time!”).
How the game actually changed
Now with all these images, it’s a different story. Everyone understands pictures without education. We’ve created the possibility to share what the past looked like with the same version for everyone: because everyone agrees on images. Photoshop or not, people naturally believe in images, we are visual animals. Each time you look at something, it creates a footprint in your subconscious mind. It’s a basic mechanism to survive. We were made this way.
To follow up on what I consider problematic: since we build ourselves with images from the past, are we changing the way humans evolve with all this content available? I’m talking about a long term change. The exposure to visual content is growing everyday and I don’t see anything stopping it.
I’m not trying to paint a cynical vision of the world. Because the ones who know me understand that I’m far away from being inspired by negativity. I’m positive when I know where the problem is. I just wonder what’s next for us as humans in term of evolution.
What is our era about?
I recently had an deep conversation on “What is 2000's about?”. In term of style and culture, the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s were clearly recognisable. People were creating new pattern inside our culture (at least “western culture”). People were coming out of a fucking war guys. They needed some new vision of the future, of themselves, they needed to look forward.
And I think we started to screw up in the 90’s. For two important reasons: first, the end of the Cold War in 1991 put the US in the top of the world pyramid. Secondly, TV were wildly spread across the population and we just started to connect people with phone lines, Minitel, and Internet. For the idiots calling me “communist”: the fact the US was at the top of the food chain means they have a total control on the western countries. It’s just a fact, good or bad, it’s not my judgement.
That means starting 1991, we had the possibility to look at our past. As a result, since 1991, the fashion industry created a mix of the previous decades. I use fashion to highlight this point but it’s also true in the music industry.
Are we nostalgic about this period? Or maybe we are just not able to look forward anymore.
All the “innovation” happening today has nothing to do with building a new future. 99% of the innovations today are made to fix shit we did in the first place. Sex robot because we are not able to communicate? Smart house because we are incapable of thinking about true ecology? Smartphone because… Because what? We are incapable of doing things with our hands and mind? Seriously. We should have stop technology in the mid 90’s. When Internet was still pure and phones were just good enough to call each others.
I always find important to write a disclaimer when I talk about this: This problem is specific to our western countries. South America, Asia, and Africa probably enjoyed more our technology evolution. Because they had a clear need inside the population to grow the economy.
Creating a vision
Our ability to look forward was stolen from most of us. It’s something I see everyday. You all know someone who feel lost because of the countless possibilities. Having to many options in front of you is dividing population into 2 categories: the ones who will be able to lower their screen usage and work more on their creativity and healthy mind habits. The other ones will stay frozen, zombies, stuck in the virtual world of influences. The separation is clearer everyday to me. I’m lucky enough to be in the last generation who knew life before and after 2008. Thanks god I wasn’t born in the 2000's.
We are not evolving that much. The world is still divided. The huge difference today is this: you have the control on it. If we look closer at what makes people privileged through history, it can look like this: Kings were managing lands, then money and exchanges, and then education. Today, the Kings of our world just need to control the media (and Internet). Because it’s the root of how we behave, where we travel, what we buy, and what we know.
If you want to be a King in your own kingdom, you can choose your behaviours. But the first step to master it is to have a total control on what you’re looking at. Reduce your screen usage. The new Kings will be the ones who have a full control on technology influence on them. Since the other part of the population will still use technology more and more (and it’s only the very beginning), we all have the chance to be Kings.
Create your own vision, forget the past, live in this world at it is but master what you see to become who you want to be.