Conscious Uncoupling

David K. Smith, 22 December 2017

I'll admit it: I'm antisocial. I think the vast majority of people are disgusting. I'm also a former optimist: whereas I once had confidence that humanity possessed the intelligence to solve its problems, I now see us hurtling ever faster toward self-annihilation. And technology bears some of the blame. But don't mistake me for some anti-technology nutcase; I think it's one of our finest achievements. But technology is not self-regulating—it isn't benign by nature. It's merely a tool, and how humanity uses that tool tells us far more about the people than the tech.

Look at the Internet: it was invented by scientists as a means to share information. Now it's become a cesspool worse than any slum, where anonymity turns closet bullies into virtual murderers (that's not an exaggeration), and clinically demented techies crank out destructive viruses simply because they can. Journalism is collapsing as "fake news" threatens our ability to obtain factual information, while science is being eroded by total nonsense—"flat earthers" are now on the rise as ignorance is becoming a fad.

The more I learn about global society today, the less I want to know. Voices of reason are being drowned out not by voices of dissent, but by the noise of pure indifference. The greater threat to society isn't so much from people who oppose reason as it is from people who simply do not care. They refuse to take the time to learn about those things that directly affect their lives. Gathering factual information has become a burden; let nothing impede the selfie generation.

Ask a football fan about the sport, and you'll receive a college education on it; ask the same person about the elected officials responsible for decisions about his community, and you'll get a blank stare. He'll assert that he voted—after all, it's our responsibility to do so (no, actually it's our right to do so)—but he's hopeless to name one platform position his chosen candidate maintains, much less how that position affects his life. Yet, if you dare to raise the subject of climate change with him, he'll shut you down with a barrage of nonsense.

Almost daily, new reports from climate specialists confirm we're on track to match—or even exceed—their worst-case scenarios. Consequently, many models put us at or past the point of no return. In other words, we're totally screwed, and there's nothing we can do about it. Even if we somehow convinced the entire global population that climate change is real by EOB tomorrow, and everyone did their part to help "fix" it, there's no hope of turning it around anytime soon. Things will get a lot worse before they get better (if getting better is even possible any more). The precious few who understand the concept of latency know why.

Besides, global warming is but one of many grave problems we face. Given the current population growth, we'll run out of food and fresh water before we fry or drown. And by that time, we'll be in the middle of a major extinction event—which has already begun, with precipitous declines in everything from single-celled sea creatures all the way up to our largest mammals. Regrettably, our well-intentioned "save the whales" folks totally miss the importance of our smallest life forms, which are absolutely vital to our survival because of a thing we call the "food chain."

Anyway, there's simply no possibility of saving our most threatened species, not when politicians revoke laws protecting them—often for no other reasons than pure political spite. National parks are being downsized because big business wants to exploit them not for the betterment of mankind, but for profit. Avarice is one of four engines driving mankind's self-destruction; the others are ignorance, selfishness, and sadism—the last having roots in political or religious righteousness.

Back in my college days, I wrote a few essays on the subject of what motivates people to do harm to one another and the environment on which they depend; I was convinced that smart people would save our planet from the stupid ones. I regret that I've come to see I was wrong. Like many of our most vital life forms, smart people are on the decline. And now some of the stupidest people on the planet hold our fate in their hands, because a lot of other really stupid people have placed them in positions of ultimate power, with access to weapons of mass destruction (which begs the question, how could weapons of mass destruction every come to exist, if not for even more really stupid people?).

I don't have many years left. I also don't have the ability to change anything—even if it did any good—so I'm making a conscious uncoupling from humanity, and living out my remaining years by myself. I want nothing to do with society as a whole, and I will likely begin to drastically reduce my consumption of news as our downward spiral accelerates. It's too depressing.

Yes, I confess to being a hypocrite for placing my personal wants ahead of those far more needy. I'm selfishly abusing the planet further by not reducing my carbon footprint, by using fossil fuels (directly or indirectly, since plastics are made from oil), etcetera, etcetera. But what would be the point of doing otherwise? We're already doomed. So, just like the rest of our selfish species, I'm living the way I want right up to the bitter end. The only difference is, I'll be laughing at everyone who hasn't realized this yet.

BTW, if you haven't figured it out by now, my sarcastic use of the strange term "Conscious Uncoupling" is a poke in the eye of a culture that's become hopelessly—even destructively—obsessed with celebrities. I'm especially critical of the fact that this obsession has led to a revolting disparity in perceived value: why is it that entertainers command outrageously obscene salaries, whereas people upon whose lives we truly depend (like police and nurses, to name just two) still receive pitiful incomes?

Why do football players get paid millions, when garbage collectors—who are arguably more important to us in our daily lives—get minimum wage, or less? Why is there even a minimum wage law? How much better our society would be if teachers received all the money they needed to do their jobs, and the Pentagon had to sell cupcakes to build a new bomber.

The last post of a young woman murdered by a racist pig says it all: If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. It would seem that no one is paying attention.

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