I’ve been thinking about and taking in everything that’s been happening and trying to keep a larger historical perspective. It helps me to remember that these things are not new, because it would be easy for me to feel like the world is getting so much darker every day. And in many ways it is. But it’s not new. This is human nature, if we look to history.
I told my wife this morning, something I realized last night is that, while yes people are going through many difficult things right now, in America and the rest of the world, one of the reasons it feels so dark is because our generation spent a good deal of time in the messy, but orgasmic euphoria of technological idealism. So much opportunity and potential was coming hard and fast every single day and it made the world seem like anything was and is and would always be possible. We were growing up as a species. Things like racism and prejudice and ignorance and greed would be defeated by virtue of our mere wealth of information and global communications abilities. Billionaires would find ways to cure diseases and solve poverty and famine and oppression. Because now we could see these things and understand them and they were wrong, right? So everyone would be outraged and band together and who the fuck knows, maybe that was just me.
But I think it was our generation, raised on the promise that we could be anything we wanted to be. Do anything we could think to do. You remember the slogans…
We also drifted hazily through the post-coital glow, dazed and confused. Wait, it’s over already?
We didn’t get there.
The other day I sort of unintentionally, maybe sub-consciously, ripped off Stanley Kubrick by figuring out an analogy I really like to describe our relationship with the internet.
It’s like if you give an interstellar spaceship to a primate. A chimpanzee, let’s say. A gorilla. Whatevs. Where do you think that primate would adventure to first?
To his nest to get his favorite club to bang on the side of the shiny shiny strange thing.
We didn’t get there. And now we’re all kinds of frustrated.
An exponential leap in technology doesn’t make for an evolutionary leap in a species. We are still faced with ourselves and our complex and diverse natures, alone glaring or crying or exhausted or even delusional, in front of a mirror, darkly.
And yet every experience like this is also an opportunity. We’re just trying to figure out where we go from here.
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