Conspiracy Theories and the ability to adapt to Change

I like conspiracy theories, some of them at least. I do not believe in the majority of them though,  but they help me dimension the amount of change (or stagnation) we had experienced as society. “The man never landed in the moon” some say, yet others state firmly that “a scientific calculator of our days has more processing capacity than the computers that guided man during this epic voyage”. Still, a cautious third group asks: “Then why there are not already cities over the surface of the moon?” Fair question too.

Changes that had taken place in technology, economics and society during the last hundred years have been so rushed that our conception of “change” seems to have been warped; we forget our own limits as a species to adapt to new standards. It is difficult to conceive so many generations living together and trying to survive tide after tide of market pressures, fashions or work/living styles literally throwing new technologies, methods, laws, foods, etc. With the Internet is the same, we have learned to operate it, access it, and navigate it, yet, for all its power, we, as society, still do not know how to use it.

For ages, mankind survived using simple tools and complex technologies. It is hard to conceive people writing on Papyrus over millennia, carefully choosing (editing) the words that would be written in the treasured substrate. In an internet-connected world, such a task is no more wonder, information abounds and our new problem is how to distill it in order to get what we really need, even if that means ceding our privileges to AIs or mega-corporations to lead our thinking and behavior.

In The New Yorker’s “How the Internet gets inside us”, Adam Gopnik defines three types of change adopters: the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers and the Ever-Wasers. At first it seems comfortable to be able to identify within (just) one of these schools, when reality is far more complex as Gopnik himself elaborates in his essay (he later revealed later to be switching among these “moods” in an interview published in the Montreal Gazette two months after the first article was published). So the whole subject would not be as which ideology appeals to one but rather how we can assimilate change or how much do we really need this change to happen as individuals and how much we are demanded to implement it in our society.

Some nations, like the Chinese, tended to have an historical perspective where change effects occur along centuries, while western civilizations have spent the last 500 years rushing towards an unknown and uncertain future nobody knows where it leads but everyone is certain we must rush forward as fast as we can.

And this is where those conspiracy theories come into play, they rebel against the prodigious wonders claimed by the Never-Bettters (must be Aliens!), the memory of a perfect world of the Better-Nevers (Kennedy!), and the apparent wisdom and neutrality of the Ever-Wasers. These theories remind us there are voices, that still pinpoint the map of the ever changing internet world, whatever it is, whatever the masses ascertain to be true. Flat earth can be refuted easily, the reply: Photoshop! What an ingenious answer!

Sometimes I really wish there was an Ice wall at the end of the world, at others I just see the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope, millions of years into the past. If the Universe were actually a Hologram, I could not care less, everything out there seems so far as to ever reach it or conceive it anyway. Mythology has not abandoned us, we are recreating it through the web, the internet has just not found time to settle in, after all, we are humans.


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