Everyone wants a piece of the pie.
That turn of phrase may have been chosen simply because I’d like some pie, but that’s not really the point here.
What does the American Dream stand for today? For many of us it was taught as the equal means given to all Americans, natural born or immigrant, by which we can make our own way in this great country through our own hard work. Put in the work, reap the rewards that only the great United States of America can provide.
The American Dream. The pursuit of happiness.
I’m not so sure anymore.
The current cultural state we find ourselves in has largely been fueled by the Internet. We are interconnected more than ever before and have vast swathes of information available to us at a moment’s notice. Capital of Ghana? Ask Google and within a fraction of a second your device will tell you. For those who can’t wait even the few seconds the entire exchange takes, from opening the app to the search results, the answer is Accra.
While the internet is fantastic for answering all of life’s random questions and destroying bar trivia games, it has changed our perception of the world. Instant gratification has morphed expectations completely. Why stay focused on a topic, say for instance your job, when the endless pleasure rewards on the Internet are available? Smartphones dominate workplaces in a more negative than positive way and we have become so dependent on them there are challenges to see how long you can go using a “dumb-phone”. It speaks volumes about how much we rely on these devices.
It’s okay though. I am personally a huge fan of forward technological progression. What I am discouraged by, is the disconnection from each other, reality, and what it means to be human. The world is more connected than ever, but we have seen a surge of isolationist and nationalist ideologies in the last few years. Our world has been built over the last century to rely on the efforts of many different contributors and yet we see more and more walls going up. We depend on developing ideas in one country, testing in another, and manufacturing in countless more for the lowest cost. But we don’t know how to cope with this dependence.
Humans were not meant for this. Millennia ago we lived in small numbers and cared for each other in our groups similar to the other primates on our planet. Then we figured out how to make things. Through thousands of years of agriculture and tool development we found ways to live longer and breed more. Lifespan increased and infant mortality rates plummeted. We have vaccines that prevent us from succumbing to disease and so much food that some of us die from the excess. With all of this advancement having led to the present day count of 7 billion humans on Earth we all depend on each other.
And we still can’t figure out how to live together.
Our instinctual tribal nature has led us to allow leaders to run our world while we sit back and enjoy the most hedonistic lifestyle possible. There is no involvement anymore. Those who have figured out how to manipulate us with salt and sugar, emotional exploits, and false information will continue to push us further and further into our satiated isolation.
We are a confused species. We have the means to create awe inspiring accomplishments unlike anything before, yet as a group we are scared little apes. The vast majority don’t take the time to learn. Snap judgments are made based on headlines and emotion, tailored media consumption, and the attempted suppression of opposing viewpoints. Hell, we’ve elected a man to our highest government office that attacks his opponents for disagreeing with him or pointing out his flaws. A man that would rather ridicule and insult journalists than provide a factual retort that proves they were incorrect.
I don’t want to pick sides and debate how one group is better than the other. Partisan split and identifying oneself as left-wing or right-wing helps nothing. I want compassion and understanding for each other. I want the Christian family to embrace the Muslim family because they are all decent, just people. I want the gender fluid person to be accepting of someone who is lacking knowledge of their personal choice because the idea is simply foreign to them, and not assume it is because they oppose it.
We’ve allowed ourselves to become swept up into divisive groups. We feel entitled to luxuries without wanting to put forth effort or understand the effect it may have on others. It is stifling who we are. Humanity’s potential is limitless. We have the means to break our sense of lethargic entitlement and engage our world. There is joy in embracing the success of others and when we do, the individual benefits as much as the group.
Alter your perspective. Expand your world.