Where did it all go wrong?
It was a hopeful time back in the mid-90s when dial-up Internet services were taking the U.S. by storm. I was as excited as anyone over what the Internet would signify to people struggling not only in this country but throughout the world.
The next big thing was here, or so it seemed. Since the Industrial Revolution, the U.S. and the world have been waiting for a subsequent job-creation catalyst. The Internet certainly appeared poised to deliver endless entertainment while simultaneously providing a path to an explosion of high-paying jobs.
Instead, the Global economy, supported by advances in mobile technology that permitted us to remain connected 24/7, escorted us first into the Dot-com market crash of 2000-2002, and then 2008’s the Great Recession–which continues to this day. The twin ironies of the Global economy and mobile technology have defied logic that spoke to their supposed improving of mankind and civilization overall.
People whose portfolios took a shaving in both crises loved the Internet through it all. Hell, they still had porn. Everyone did. And while many lost their retirement nest eggs and had to start over, the sting of it all was lessened by the sheep-like time suck that is porn surfing. We might have lost our jobs, but we’d keep our Internet connections going no matter what.
Studies showed many of us would forego sex entirely if it meant losing our Internet connections. The Global economy forced us to consider, when push comes to shove, whether we’d prefer sex or staying on the grid. Some enterprising folks felt they could have both with their broadband connections and online porn. Talk about the rise of the entrepreneurial spirit.
I would suggest the majority of sex that occurred then and now is of the isolated, closed off and self-gratification variety of which the Internet has become famous for. While we are satiated, we are simultaneously miserable over the types of individuals we’ve become. We all share our self-loathing, too, since everyone, much like high school kids and pot, are “doing” it.
Somewhere along the line, the Internet, like sex, became a basic human need. I never could have foreseen it, but for all intents and purposes, it has.
We used to be able to come home from work and be done with our jobs until the next day. The conveniences of mobile technology have forever eliminated the peaceful respite that is the living room. We are not done until we turn off our phones before we go to bed. And we put off going to bed later and later. Our collective sleep deprivation only adds to our miserable states.
The Global economy was supposed to lead to better, high-paying jobs. Skilled workers were going to be in demand. Instead, they became a commodity, and whoever could do it the cheapest got the job (at the expense of good quality).
In order to generate value for shareholders and during the late 90s and early 2000s, the call for offshoring and outsourcing of American jobs began quietly in boardrooms across America. No CEOs whose companies were engaging in this demoralizing (to American workers) practice would speak openly about it. But their non-disclosure and inability to be forthcoming only contributed to the pent up frustration and anger that is pooling out over the streets today.
People get mad when they are forced to endure economic hardships over great swaths of time. The greed that is the underpinning of the Global economy and accompanying mobile technology advances will only lead to further dissent and unrest.
Where is the hope in all of this? Look to the world as it was before the Internet and the path of isolation; good things like kindness, consideration and fairness best originate in person. Web conferences and telemedicine calls, while alright in moderation, will never be as good as old-fashioned, face-to-face experiences. We need to learn how to speak with one another again in person before we can expect to see eye to eye over problems requiring everyone’s civil contributions.