Before you read the rest of this newsletter, I ask you to pause and read another essay first. As you do, I want you to think about the emotions you are feeling. Particularly during the first section before the photo of the Afghan people in the plane - and then how you feel in the next section down to the part about Kurt Vonnegut and story arcs. How does the text move you? How do you feel?
I’m serious. If you skipped over this, please… go read that essay first
. This newsletter will still be here when you get back. (And while you are there, I encourage you to also subscribe to FutureCrunch,
or at least read more
A Choice of Stories
Did you feel the doom and gloom of the “Collapse” section? Did you feel how grim and dark it all seemed?
It’s easy to live that story. It surrounds us. Although on the calendar today is October 1, 2021, it feels like the 579th day of March 2020.
We are so done with the pandemic. We are tired of being at home, of wearing masks, of not seeing friends and family with the comfort we had before. We are tired of being anxious and stressed. We are tired of Zoom calls. We are tired of being worried about being sick. We are frustrated with people choosing to be unvaccinated and prolonging this agony. We are frustrated with the supply chain issues that are making everything harder to get. We are worried about the changes underway in our climate - and what might or might not even be possible.
And all around us the political situation is chaos. Governments seem to be engaged in a global race to the bottom to see who can do the stupidest and craziest things to destroy their nations. From the UK to Brazil to Mexico to Ethiopia to Russia to here in the USA… everywhere is tinged with madness.
And we are seeing that narrative told about the Internet right now. The critics say the Internet is a cesspool of toxicity, misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. It is people yelling at each other and being further divided and polarized. It is conspiracy theories and QAnon. It is massive US-owned mega-corporations out to steal all your information and life. It is identity theft. It is ransomware that will take over all your computers and lock up all the photos of your grandkids if you are not careful. It is fear and gloom and doom. It is “Minority Report” combined with “The Matrix” and “Terminator” and “Black Mirror”.
It is a bleak dystopia and… we.. are… all… doomed.
The story of “Collapse” is all around us.
Promoted, of course, by cynical governments and corporations who seek to use fear and gloom to gain more control and/or revenue - and by an attention-based media economy that knows that fear and gloom brings eyeballs.
… as that essay shows, the positive stories are all around us, just waiting to be told.
Try to imagine living through 2020 without the Internet.
That same “cesspool of misinformation” is an amazing system for communication, connection, collaboration, creation, and commerce. Every day I am grateful for the video calls that I can have with my parents, family, friends, and co-workers. There are resources on the Internet beyond our wildest imaginations to learn so much more. There is music, games, video, and so, so much more. People are connecting, learning, and thriving.
Yes, there are challenges, but the Internet can also be a phenomenal force for good.
Which story will we tell? To ourselves? And to the the wider society?