I feel it is necessary to make this statement because I am being increasingly made to feel like an ant. And this alarms me.
I am an individual, not part of a collective intelligence. My motives, my thoughts, my deeds are my own. Or are they?
If I look at my actions for the past, say, seven days, I would have to concede that individuality played very little part: I worked for prescribed hours, performed prescribed, largely repetitive tasks, rested at set times. I ate set meals before receiving my dose of TV indoctrination; I paid my bills, etc..
It was ever thus.
This measure of collectivism is acceptable just because it was ever thus – my necessary contribution. I am playing my part in a functioning society. But lately matters have taken a menacing turn.
Let me begin with a simple example. Have you noticed how the scripts for TV advertisements are degenerating? Words no longer seek to enthuse: they are merely a tool to fill the silence while your mind is visually attuned to the brand. All you are required to carry with you is a final image.
If you’ve borne with me thus far; thank you for your patience. Your place in the nest is assured.
Now let me tell you what really worries me. VR. Virtual Reality.
Ten years ago it seemed so improbable: headsets for video games at best, a bit of a joke. Then last week came news of a scheme to introduce VR on long-haul flights, as entertainment – to make the time pass more quickly we are told, and presumably divert us from the discomfort of our cramped conditions. A good idea? Well yes, with certain reservations.
But then from the same source followed the suggestion that aircraft so equipped would no longer need or have windows. Whoa!
Suddenly we’re blind. Deprived of the choice, the sight of that sensual sea of white cloud, we’re drawn into a world of someone else’s making – a visual drug unconnected to reality.
We sit in a featureless tube with no sense of dimension while a strange-looking helmet transports us to wherever we want to go – or wherever someone with a vested interest (and these investments are expensive so they will be thorough) wants us to go.
The thin end of a huge, gigantic, unstoppable wedge? No? Ten years ago prosthetic limbs were unsophisticated sticks with some degree of articulation, no substitute for the real thing. Now we have bionic limbs. Now we have Robocop! (Well maybe not quite, but going that way and fast).
How long will take the geniuses who learned how to connect to the primary nerves that make these bionics work to do the same to a VR helmet? How long before VR becomes more than a merely visual experience?
Easy, then, to pipe into our brains those key images we are meant to appreciate. Clinging to a planet that is becoming increasingly hostile, our windowless houses will divert us from the raging of the storm. All of our world will be contained within a helmet.
Are we really capable of creating such a nirvana? Can we exist in a space where nothing is real? Ten years ago (that decade thing again) I would not have believed this. Now I do.
And the specter we should most fear is that while we the people chew on our superficially desirable cud a small elite will be able to manipulate us without resistance. We will all become one – a collective intelligence serving a ‘Queen’. Democracy is already largely a key ‘ownership’, one step away from an elitist oligarchy. This could so easily make it so.
It is worthy of admiration, this new communism – it is a beautiful thing; but do we want it? Is there still a choice or is the future out of our hands?
Welcome to the nest!