Tag Archives: civilization

Boredom: The Epidemic Of The Future?

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Back in August of 2013, a very heinous, very unusual crime made headlines around the world. In Dunkan, Oklahoma, a group of three teenagers allegedly murdered Christopher Lane, an Australian exchange student just out for a jog, in cold blood just because they were bored.

Think about that for a moment. A bunch of teenagers got so bored and were so desperate form stimulation that they resorted to cold-blooded murder just to get their adrenaline flowing. We, as a society, are so used to crimes of passion and desperation. They’re basically the premise of every episode of “CSI” and “Law and Order.”

The fact those shows keep getting renewed show that we have a certain concept of what inspires and propagates crime and deviance. People who commit these crimes usually have some sort of overpowering motivation that overshadows any sense of decency they have. They’re desperate for money, they’re hopelessly in love, or in some cases, they’re pathological psychopaths with fatal flaws in their biology.

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What makes the murder of Christopher Lane so horrifying is that it completely upends that narrative. The killers, in this case, weren’t motivated by revenge, money, or personality disorders. They were just bored.

That is extremely disconcerting because we’ve all felt bored at some point in our lives. There was this one time the power got knocked out at my house for nearly two days and I couldn’t do damn near anything. When it got dark and I had no more light with which to read comics, it got to be damn near agonizing. I never did anything stupid because of it, but this crime should give everyone pause.

The fact that we’re all capable of being exceedingly bored reveals a disturbing possibility. If three bored teenagers are capable of such a heinous act, then are others just as capable? Are we, personally, capable of such horror? Depending on how bored you’ve been in the past, that’s a disturbing question to even think about.

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However, it may become an increasingly relevant question in the future. Usually, when I talk about the future on this blog, I explore the more positive ramifications of our advances in technology. I talk about how this technology will cure infectious disease, enhance our cognitive abilities beyond our caveman limits, and improve our sex lives to amazingly kinky heights.

I know, at times, it sound downright utopian in my vision of the future. By our current standards, wherein we live in a world where 3.7 million children die before their fifth birthday, it certainly seems rosy by comparison. However, I stick my fingers in my ears and start singing John Lennon songs when I contemplate potential problems in that vision. This is one issue that’s easy to overlook, but has major implications.

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At this moment in history, society has a great many distractions in terms of entertainment and productivity. Most people have jobs, of some sort, to keep them busy. The three teenagers who killed Christopher Lee were on summer vacation and had nothing productive to do. It’s hard to know whether a part-time job at a fast food joint would’ve averted a murder, but they would’ve had to find a different excuse.

Whether you’re toiling in the fields of a small farm or running around an office like an episode of “The Office,” we’ve always had some kind of work to keep us, as a species, occupied. For most of human history, we had to work. If we didn’t, then we starved to death. It was that simple.

It’s another rare instance where caveman logic seems to apply equally across time and history. It doesn’t matter whether we’re hunter/gatherers or sweatshop workers putting together barbie dolls. We’re a species that’s wired to work. It may not always be the work we prefer, but we know why it’s necessary on some levels. We need to gather and manage our resources to survive.

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That, however, is where the chink in our boredom-busting armor might start. For most of human history, we’ve always had to work ourselves to the bone to keep our species and our civilization moving. That’s rapidly changing due to trends in automation. Add in the growth of artificial intelligencethe rise of 3D printing, and the possibility of lab-grown food, and suddenly we don’t need millions of people toiling anymore.

Now by most measures, it’s a good thing that we don’t need people to endure back-breaking labor just to get the bare minimum of sustenance. Most people would rather not work in fields of cow shit or work 12-hour shifts in a factory. They’d rather work a reasonable number of hours that provides them abundant leisure and family time. That’s wholly possible in a modern economy.

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However, at some point, technology will make even that reasonable set of hours won’t be necessary. Our ability to make our food, purify our water, and generate power might become so efficient that the amount of work needed is minimal. Given our tendency to screw up on the job, it may get to a point where having human workers is a liability.

It could lead to a huge mass of unemployment or under-employment. However, that wouldn’t mean everyone would have to live in poverty. On the contrary, it may eliminate poverty altogether because we could allocate the basic necessities of life so efficiently. Policies like the universal basic income, which I’ve talked about before, may effectively decouple the link between work and survival.

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This is all well and good for people who hate doing menial jobs for low pay, but it creates a situation that we, as a species, have never dealt with before. What happens to our bodies, minds, and biology when we don’t have to work at all and are subject to the constant threat of boredom?

That’s not entirely a rhetorical question. It’s also one of those questions that’s impossible to answer now, but might be possible to address in the future. We’ve never had a functioning society where nobody has to work and everybody has access to the basics of life, free of charge. It’s so unprecedented that it’s hard to know whether we’re even wired for it.

The ghastly murder of Christopher Lane implies that our minds and bodies don’t react well to boredom. It makes us think crazy thoughts, do crazy things, and act on crazy impulses. What else other than boredom can explain people dedicating so much time and energy into making paperclip chains?

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It doesn’t just reflect to our basic caveman settings. These are essential survival instincts that every species that has ever lived have built into their biology. Every creature, be it a lion or a dung beetle, dedicates a significant amount of its existence simply securing food, avoiding predators, and finding a mate. Given the never-ending competition of nature and evolution, there’s literally no time to be bored.

Humans are in an unprecedented situation compared to other species. We’re basically like players in a massive multi-player video game armed with cheat codes. We are so dominate, so powerful, and so adaptable that no other species has a prayer. Sure, a deer may kill an unlucky human every now and then, but deer are just not able to dominate the way humans dominate.

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The problem is that this undermines the very mechanics of evolution and survival instinct. What happens to a species where it doesn’t need those instincts to survive and reproduce anymore? With our tools and technology, humans can kill any predator and beat any disease.

That means our only concern would be reproduction. That might already be playing out to some extent. There have been some links, albeit weak ones, between adolescent boredom and teen pregnancy. When you think about it from a survival standpoint, it makes sense. If there’s no food to gather or predators to avoid, your next instinct is to mate. At the very least, having kids gives you something to do.

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However, technology may make that unnecessary as well. Between advances in contraception and artificial wombs, even that most basic instinct won’t be necessary for the propagation of our species. In that scenario, sex would have no reproductive purposes. It would just be another thing we do with our bodies when we’re bored. While that might mean more people get laid, it also means risking even more boredom.

Can we, as a species and as individuals, function with that kind of boredom? In a future where we have so few concerns to our survival, safety, and propagation, can we actually tolerate life? Again, it’s not entirely a rhetorical question.

Just imagine yourself in that situation. You wake up in a nice, comfortable dwelling every day. You don’t have to work. Anything you want to eat is readily available. If you want to have sex, there are apps to connect you with people or sex robots that make that as easy as ordering a pizza. You have all the time you want for hobbies, sports, and what not.

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It might be fun at first, but what happens when you get bored? How do you fill every hour of every day? What happens when you’ve read all your books, beat every video game, and collected every stamp? What will you do to entertain yourself?

That’s not to say some people will resort to the lengths that those teenagers in Oklahoma went to when they murdered an innocent man. However, the fact that this happened today when we’re still a long way from that rosy future is telling. It might even be a warning that we’re not prepared for the boredom pandemic to come.

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The Horrific Consequences Of Human Stupidity

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We all make mistakes. We’ve all done or said things that make us feel stupid. I certainly have. One time, I tried to impress a girl by claiming I’d eaten a live caterpillar. She just took two steps back, gave me that repulsed look, and made it clear that she did not find that sort of thing attractive. Needless to say, I never got a date with that girl.

Mistakes are a part of life. They’re an understandable part of the human experience. We’re bound to make mistakes because the world is chaotic. Our decisions are bound to be erratic, misguided, or just downright wrong at some point. Even the smartest among us is prone to making mistakes. Just ask a certain high-ranking general who got busted having an affair because he foolishly used unsecured emails.

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Mistakes are one inescapable element of life. Stupidity, however, is the 800-pound, machine-gun toting gorilla in the room that we can’t stop poking with a stick. I’ve spent all week preaching the importance of education. I did so despite all those times I belabored how much I hated high school. I still don’t think I can overstated just how much it matters.

More than anything else, education matters because stupidity comes at a cost. In fact, it can become very costly very fast if you let it. Stupidity, by definition, ensures that we’ll do more than make mistakes. We’ll actually find ways to turn a bad situation worse.

Remember that little story about me trying to impress that girl? Well, I’m lucky I’m not that stupid because if I were, I would’ve doubled down on my claim. Even after she’d been repulsed by the caterpillar story, a stupider version of me would’ve taken it a step further. He would’ve gotten on the floor, found the first bug he could find, and licked it up as though it were the last piece of chocolate fudge. That’s the power of stupidity.

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It doesn’t just hinder our ability to impress the opposite sex either. Stupidity can have huge, world-shaking consequences. I’m not just talking about the brilliant scientists at NASA losing a probe because someone didn’t know the difference between feet and meters. I’m talking about real events that shaped our history due to spectacular acts of stupidity.

It does happen. We humans are capable of that level of stupidity. For better or for worse, a part of why our history and our civilization has manifested like it has is due to some ridiculous acts of stupidity. Some of it is just an honest mistake that just snowballed. Some of it is just stupidity in the highest degree.

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The number of events incurred by human stupidity are too vast and voluminous to list. I could probably start a whole new blog with the sole purpose of discussing how stupidity shaped our world. For now, I’ll keep it to only nine, thanks to the fine folks at Listerverse.

A couple years ago, they did an article that discussed some tiny acts of stupidity that had huge consequences on society, civilization, and the course of history. Granted, there’s no way these people could’ve known at the time the sheer breadth of their stupidity. Hindsight being what it is, though, there’s just no getting around the results.

Listverse: 9 Tiny Mistakes With Monumental Historical Consequences

Read the article and then dare to have a high opinion of the human species. If you’re not much for reading, here’s a few highlights that are worth mentioning.

  • The event that sparked World War I, and World War II by default, hinged on some idiot driver making the wrong turn in Sarajevo.

  • The failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 was an unmitigated disaster because someone in the American military stupidly forgot about the existence of time zones.

  • The fall of Constantinople, one of the most important cities of the Medieval Europe, was almost entirely due to some idiot forgetting to lock the gate.

Some of these mistakes have had huge consequences on our world, even today. There’s no denying the impact of events like World War I or the fall of Constantinople. Without these events, history and society as we know it today just doesn’t exist. How odd/frustrating is it that so many of them hinged on acts of gross stupidity?

Again, hindsight being what it is, it’s impossible to know what could’ve happened had certain people not been so stupid. It’s also important to maintain some sense of perspective when it comes to the stupidity of the past compared to what we deal with in the present.

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We’re actually in the midst of an unprecedented time in human history. As recently as 1820, only 12 percent of the population could read and write. Today, around 83 percent of the world’s seven billion people are literate. That is not a trivial shift. A world with this many educated people is unheard of and nobody really knows what kind of impact that will have on the course of history.

Despite the progress we’ve made, though, there’s still plenty of room for stupidity. Thanks to the internet and social media, we can expect our various mistakes, spectacular or otherwise, to be documented for all to see until the end of time. It’s part of being human, making mistakes and never living them down. Let’s, at least, acknowledge the extent to which some of those mistakes have affected our species.

 

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Why Your Ancient Ancestors Had Better Sex Than You: Cracked Podcast

For a while now, I’ve been talking about a fascinating/sexy-as-hell book I’ve been reading called “Sex At Dawn.” By now, my sentiment towards that book should be pretty clear. If you’re really in the mood for something that’s non-fiction, but still sexy as hell, then this is the way to go.

There are so many profound concepts and insight in this book, most of are even sexier than you think they are. I’ve discussed a few of them. This book is the one that coined the term “the standard model” for modern sexuality. It’s basically a catch-all term for the so-called “traditional” brand of romance that involves the white picket fence, a monogamy non-kinky couple, and a glut of kids who aspire to be future soldiers, workers, and tax-payers.

The main purpose of the book is to deconstruct that model and highlight just how flawed it is. It does this by shining a light on our evolutionary past, namely the part that creationists don’t think existed. It explores how sexuality manifests in the pre-agricultural, hunter/gatherer societies that once made up the entirety of the human species.

This book, and the narrative it paints, has given me a lot to think about. Some thoughts are sexier than others. Some involve belaboring certain flaws in modern romance, which isn’t quite as sexy. In any case, this book has been an insightful read. If you enjoy the kinky topics I discuss on this blog or the sexy stories I write in my books, then “Sex At Dawn” is right up your alley.

If my own personal recommendation isn’t enough, then maybe this will help as well. Cracked.com, a site I’m quite fond of, does a weekly podcast and every now and then, they’ll get a special guest. Well last week, in what might be the best cosmic karma since I found a $20 bill outside a strip club, they invited the author of “Sex At Dawn“, Dr. Christopher Ryan, to be part of a live recording.

It made for a fun, fascinating, and quite sexy discussion. The staff at Cracked made quite an effort to challenge him and expand on what he wrote about in the book. It made for some pretty amazing insights.

One particular discussion that stands out is Dr. Ryan’s clear assertion that there’s no going back to the more egalitarian, sex-positive culture of hunter/gatherer societies. He makes clear that it’s just not possible, given how modern civilization has entrenched itself with its dogmatic reservations towards sexual issues.

Sadly, I agree with him. I do think it’s impossible to turn the clock back on human society. If there were, then the priests, mullahs, and social conservatives would’ve used it a long time ago. That said, Dr. Ryan does say there might be one way to level the playing field, so to speak. As it just so happens, it involves something else I’ve discussed on this blog. At this point, it feels like cosmic karma is letting me cop a feel.

He makes clear in the podcast that he favors a universal basic income, a very new idea, but one I’ve discussed on this blog extensively. He believes this will be the key to reorienting our society in a way that’s more conducive to the brand of sexuality that evolution has wired within us. It’s an intriguing, but sexy idea and one I hope to explore.

It’s just one of many interesting topics that came up on this podcast. It’s aptly called “Why Your Ancient Ancestors Had Better Sex Than You” and I highly recommend it. Below is a SoundCloud link to it. Enjoy it, but if you’re wearing tight pants, you might want to change them. Just a fair warning.

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What BDSM Tells Us About Authority And Our Future

Let’s face it, we humans need some semblance of order in our lives. As a species, we just don’t function well in chaos. We’re a species that will riot in the streets because we’re glad our favorite basketball team won the championship. If aliens landed tomorrow, we’d have a very hard time explaining that to them.

Order and authority is a big part of what makes society function. It’s a big part of what helps humanity survive. As caveman logic tells us, our brains and bodies are wired for only two things: survival and reproduction. They’re wired, designed, and maintained poorly, as I’ve pointed out many times before, but there are over 7 billion of us surviving and reproducing on this planet right now so we must be doing something right.

This leads me to the wonderful world of BDSM. Yes, I know that sounds like a non-sequiter. Yes, I know that sounds like an excuse for me to talk about overtly sexual topics again. No, I will not apologize for it. I don’t think I need to explain myself at this point, nor should I have to.

In reading and writing about BDSM, I’ve picked up on a few underlying themes. Since my brain works in elaborately perverse ways, I often find myself applying those themes to the world around me. BDSM is no exception. If anything, it’s the basic standard.

Earlier this year, I completed a draft of a book called “The Big Game.” It’s a book that explores various forms of BDSM, but not just because I think readers enjoy the mental image of a star male athlete being whipped in the ass by a sexy female librarian type, although I’m sure that has its own kind of appeal.

In this story, I try to apply the principles of BDSM to a bigger picture. That bigger picture has a lot to do with how we function as a society and how we see authority. Some people inherently flaunt authority. Some people desperately need it. Human thought is incredibly diverse on the subject, but whatever our sentiment, it still affects us.

At its core, BDSM cuts through all the chaff, uncertainties, and formalities. When you read about BDSM or practice it, you know who’s in charge. You know who has the authority and who doesn’t. It’s an extremely simplistic scenario that requires little thought. The fact it often involves sex is just a bonus and a damn good bonus if done right.

In many respects, BDSM takes advantage of the biological wiring that’s already in place. There is actual science behind our inclination to obey and conform. A large body of research shows that humans have a genetic and psychological predisposition to obedience and conformity.

When you look at it through the lens of caveman logic, it makes sense. In our caveman state, we can’t dedicate all this mental energy into deciding whether or not we should trust or obey someone. That would be like holding a jury trial just to determine who gets to pick the restaurant on a date night. It’s a wholly inefficient use of our time and energy.

We need to use those resources for more vital issues like securing meat for the winter and doing enough humping to ensure our tribe has enough people to continue. Natural selection does the rest. That’s why nature instills this in our collective psyche. It helps us get along, work together, and survive long enough to get frisky.

However, like most other natural forces within our biology, it’s not that fine-tuned. Nature is a blunt instrument and not a scalpel. If our brains and bodies were computers, then they we’d say they had been wired by a drunk office temp with a bad attitude and a knack for laziness. As a result, this vital programming for obedience and conformity lay the foundation for BDSM.

It’s in this context where our biological programming for obedience goes to an extreme. The fact those extremes bring some people to orgasm only makes it more powerful. When there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, we naturally look for whatever certainty we can find. As I said before, you can’t get much more certain than who dominates who in BDSM.

Submission, dominance, obedience, and authority are all streamlined in BDSM. You don’t need to dedicate a lick of mental energy to scrutinize the situation. Everything is perfectly structured. Everything is perfectly laid out. For many perfectly healthy people who are concerned about an unhealthy world, there’s a lot of appeal in that situation.

At its core, BDSM acknowledges that we human beings aren’t built, physically or mentally, to be complete independent. We need to submit or dominate certain aspects of our lives. It’s the only way we can make sense of the world and ourselves. That’s a big reason why BDSM experiences are so powerful for some people. It’s also a big reason why it has such appeal.

So what does this mean for our future? Well, that’s a bit trickier to answer. We like to think we’re progressing to a point where we can meet all our physical and emotional needs through technology. That’s not entirely wrong, but a big part of those needs is to have some form of stable authority.

As kids, that authority is our parents. As young adults, that authority is our teachers, law enforcement, and fellow peers. As adults, that authority is our spouses, our bosses at work, or our friends. We built our lives around authority. A part of us needs some kind of authority to submit to. Some need it more than others. Most of us need it more than we care to admit.

The future will create all sorts of new uncertainties. With over 7 billion people with countless (often conflicting) needs, we’ll need some form of authority to make sense of ti all. I don’t know what form that authority will take, but it’s an idea I intend to explore.

It’s also an idea I intend to make sexy in some strange way, but that should be a given at this point. After all, if BDSM can give authority so much sex appeal, then why not embrace it along with our future as a species?

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