The Future of YouTube

In the future, when archeologists mine our computer data, they will eventually run across YouTube and when they do, they’re going to come to some interesting conclusions about life in the early 21st century.  Here are just a few examples.  (In no particular order.)

Half of all Russian drivers had dash cameras and the other half were drunk.

The tattoo industry was basically illiterate.

Our society was obsessed with puppies, kittens and fat people falling over.

Stairs were dangerous, trampolines were dangerous but the most dangerous thing of all were stripper poles.

It was common practice to scare the crap out of people – friends, neighbours, total strangers.

Construction workers were idiots.

Every man on the planet was nailed in the crotch by a ball, a bat, a rock, a pole, a stick, a croquet mallet, a hot beverage, a flying piece of fruit or some other heavy item — at least once.

The number of skateboarders who attempted suicide was astronomical.

Grown men spent their lives looking for mistakes in movies.

Taylor Swift was part of the problem.

Kanye West had only one song.

Millions of people spent millions of hours watching men doing various activities with a variety of balls.

No one could get through an entire day without mentioning Trump.

People made all sorts of things out of used plastic bottles and old toilet rolls – but they were totally useless and looked like they were made out of used plastic bottles and old toilet rolls.

Western religion was based on celebrities and babies.

Bikinis made women stupid.  Men started out that way.

People worried about zombies a lot more than they did nutrition.

Accidents, catastrophes and natural disasters were spectator sports.

Marriage proposals were publicly staged and elaborately planned.

Wedding, yearbook and family photos were objects of ridicule.

But actually:

Despite all their research, future archeologists are never going to be able to figure out who was filming all this stuff or why.

1984 or Brave New World? (2022)

It’s been several decades since George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984.  It’s considered one of the pivotal books of the 20th century, and if you haven’t actually read it (in the 21st century, most people haven’t) you certainly know what it’s about.  It’s a complicated tale, but the Twitter version is we better watch out or Big Government is going to go power mad and control (read “enslave”) us all.  Orwell lined up the usual suspects – censorship, disinformation, propaganda, surveillance, informants and fear – to create a pretty scary Stalinist view of the future (read “the present.”)  In fact, it’s so convincing that many of the terms Orwell invented — like NewspeakDoublethinkRoom 101 and Big Brother — are now part of our language.  The problem is George may have got it wrong.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  Some computer in California is probably reading your text messages and can pinpoint your location, anywhere on planet, but – uh — so what?  Quite frankly, if the CIA, MI5, FSB or the Chinese MSS want to know anything about you, all they have to do is log into Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., and they’ve got all the information they need.  And that’s the crux of the situation.  Who do we have to fear – our government or ourselves?

For my money, if you want a scarier version of the future (read “the present”) take a look at Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, published in 1932.  Huxley’s view is deeper and darker and a lot more prophetic.  Huxley’s says the future won’t be bleak and hungry but actually rather happy – too happy.  Huxley’s society is just as closed and lock-step conformist as Orwell’s, but the difference is nobody cares.

In 1985, Neil Postman published a book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, and part of it is a comparison of 1984 and Brave New World.  Here are a few of his observations.

Orwell said that, in the future, many books would be banned.
Huxley said there would be no need to ban books because nobody would read them.

Orwell said that information would be strictly controlled and distributed by the government.
Huxley said that there would be so much information no one would pay attention to it.

Orwell said the truth would be concealed from the people.
Huxley said the truth would be irrelevant.

Orwell warned us about the dangers of the Cult of Personality.
Huxley warned us about the Cult of Celebrity.

Orwell saw a joyless, sexually repressed, poverty-stricken society that had lost its soul.
Huxley saw a drug-soaked, sexually promiscuous, consumer society that didn’t have one.

Orwell feared a manipulated culture.
Huxley feared a trivial culture.

Here, in the 21st century, the future is now, and Big Brother might very well be watching you — but personally, I think the bigger problem is … he doesn’t need to.

I wrote this in 2019 but it bears repeating!

A Few Definitions

Aside from fire and Velcro, language is the most useful tool humans have ever produced.  Once we went beyond grunting and growling, we were able to communicate complex ideas with a precision that made us the dominant species on this planet.  Unfortunately, these days we’re not playing nice with our words, and they’re losing their effectiveness.  We’ve taken to manipulating the language to try and give words extra meaning that they don’t deserve – and it’s failing miserably.  Here are a few contemporary words (we’ve all heard thousands of times – a day) that are supposed to carry a connotative punch – but they don’t – because we all know what they really mean.

1 — White Privilege – A bunch of privileged white people calling other white people “privileged” as if they did it on purpose just to be assholes.

2 — Twitter – A virtual stick that we beat people with until they agree not to disagree.

3 — Instagram – An historical record of just how culturally shallow we are in the 21st century.

4 – Facebook – Instagram for old people.

5 — Woke – “I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.”

6 — Virtue Signaling – This is how you know I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.

7 — Hate – Criticism you don’t like. “She said these jeans make me look fat.  She’s always been a hater!”

8 — Support – Criticism you do like.  “She said these jeans made me look curvy.  She’s always been supportive!”

9 — Brave – We’ve been using this word for everything from telling our daughter we’re gay to wearing pink chiffon, yoga pants and a hoodie.  Essentially, we’ve devalued the currency of this term so completely nobody even hears it anymore. (Remember what happened to “hero”?)

10 — Clicktivist – There is no IRL equivalent to this made-up cyberword.  The closest I can find is smug.

11 — Gluten Free – What we’ve been doing to safeguard our health — instead of finding a cure for cancer.

12 — Content Warning – The latest lame-ass attempt to keep the cybermob quiet.  We use it because — in the great tennis match between the eagerly offended and the immediately placated — the offended crowd upped the ante and declared that “trigger warning” itself was actually a trigger.  Go figure!

13 — Conversation – As in “We need to have a conversation about that.”  And it means: I’ll do the talking, and if you don’t shut up and agree, I’ll go Twitter (see Item #2) on your ass.  Not to be confused with “dialogue” which is too yesterday to be taken seriously.

14 — Issues – Problems that can’t possibly be solved.  A handy way to maintain perpetual victim status.

15 – Giving Back – The stuff rich people do when they are a) “woke” (see item #5) b) “virtue signaling (see item #6) and c) have some time on their hands.

16 – Awareness – Wasting time stating the obvious.  Does anybody know anybody who isn’t aware of inequality?

17 — Authentic – Social media sincerity that takes a ton of careful planning.

18 — Shaming – No, I’m not going to go there.

19 – Toxic – I don’t like this, and I’ve decided that nobody else should like it either.

And finally the one that demonstrates just exactly how easily the language can be manipulated:

20 – ‘Splaining – Add any prefix you want (man, age, size, eco, etc.) and you can get pissed off about it.