It Always Gets Worse, Then It Gets Really Good

Samual Branch American crises FB blog
Photo by: Samual Branch

Technology is making plain what has always been the case in industrial and post-industrial global society: when insecurity is the norm, whether you’re an individual or a nation, you better meddle in other people’s affairs.

Doesn’t matter if it’s about what bathroom “they” should use, or who “their” president should be. Meddling in other people’s affairs is always profitable in a world dominated by markets, government and money. That’s because this trifecta nearly guarantees a constant state of insecurity whether you’re a person, a business or a sovereign state.

By “profitable” we mean, using your knowledge of other people’s insecurity to soothe your own insecurity. So it doesn’t necessarily have to do with increasing your bank account, though it often does.

NYT report blog
We don’t admire Mark Zuckerberg no matter how much money he has. And while he controls arguably the largest human network, you can bet he’s not feeling very secure these days. Photo: From Google News

We don’t admire Mark Zuckerberg no matter how much money he has.

But Facebook’s contribution to revealing rampant human insecurity is admirable. If you have a moment this podcast excellently portrays what Facebook is up against. Their data know-how combined with owning one of if not the largest and most popular human network, enables them an unprecedented level of potential control…not only of people through information, but entire nation states too.

That’s real power.

No wonder more and more people are debating regulating Facebook.

Because the idea of a business or a person having that much power triggers of everyone else’s insecurities.

CNN report blog
Felony convictions tighten the noose. But they also increase everyone’s insecurity. Photo credit: Google News

And yet, many would love to have that kind of power. Trump is an excellent example of an insecure person for whom no level of power is soothing enough.

The world’s people are increasingly beginning to see with more clarity how much countries capable of meddling do. But the same can be said for nearly any human too.

We are all insecure. Until we’re not.

We bet you have at least twice today attempted to control the behaviors of someone important to you. Perhaps even someone you love, simply because you felt insecure about yourself, the relationship, or something that person offers that you consider so valuable you would experience loss in the losing of it.

Electoral meddling blog
The many faces of American meddling. Graphic: Dov H. Levin, Carnegie Mellon University

Countries are no different. Companies are no different. Not in the context of a society run by current institutions we seem to covet.

So we all are hypocrites when we attack Trump, or Russia, or Christian moms who don’t want their children exposed to a transgender woman in the girls’ bathroom. All of us are subject to similar insecurities. They may not be in the same league or category.

But that doesn’t mean you’re not insecure.

What we see in the US, the polarization, the racism, Russian meddling, American meddling…all this behavior we would prefer not to see –– these aren’t the problem.

They are symptoms.

The problem is humanity’s penchant to believe what we’ve got is so good, we better not change it, even though history has demonstrated over and over and over that with change always comes better.

But usually not before it gets very, very bad.


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