Instant Gratification vs a Dying Planet
Look around. It is not a secret that technology has contributed to creating a culture of impatience and instant gratification for consumers at all levels. Think about social media, on-demand online TV, smartphones, tablets, video games, on-demand rides, online shopping, and home automation, to name a few. None of the technologies driving these things are problematic in and of themselves; the problem is that as we become more and more focused on a culture of speed and efficiency, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Our perception and priorities are changing rapidly and we easily forget what is really important for our society and species in the long run. As I have watched technology grow more powerful and more pervasive, I have also seen (in myself and those around me) a tendency to forget how important is to interact with people. In my focus on speed and efficiency, I have noticed that I am less and less likely to consider the subtle implications of overuse or the side effects of these technologies. This is dangerous, and I am concerned that the more I become accustomed to just accepting what I perceive at face value, and the more I acclimate to superficial satisfaction with immediate results, the less likely I am to not see long term, existential threats as relevant. This can most clearly be seen in the case of the current climate crisis, the crisis of global warming. Imagine, if we continue as we are, behaving in ways that are in complete disharmony with our natural environment for the sake of short-term gain, soon there will be no virtual friends to share experiences with or to “like” on Facebook; there will be no online shows to watch; no video games to play with; no on-demand rides to take; no goods to buy or delivered by cool drones; and there will be no cool stuff to automate at home. What’s more, with the increase of sea levels (which is a reality and is already happening), vast amounts of areas of the east coast will be underwater in only a couple of decades. Not only that, the world migratory crises that we are witnessing today will be nothing compared to the global catastrophe that occurs when countries are literally drowning, and hundreds of millions of people are desperately trying to find safe homes elsewhere. So I ask myself, why is this so difficult? Why aren’t we capable, as a species at this moment, of taking the warnings of the scientific community seriously? Why aren’t we all capable, right now, of changing our behavior for the long term good of all? When I look at myself, and at the world around me, it seems that a major obstacle to taking action on the environment is the fact that we are so distracted with instant gratification. As software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs, we are responsible for trying to find a balance between individual gain (profit) and working for the greater good, a sustainable future for our societies. The way I am starting to do this is by consciously dedicating some of my spare time to supporting projects that are focused on solving important problems like climate change. I’ve realized that in order to do this I need to work with my ego and understand that the only way we can get big things done is by doing them together. So unless we have a lot of money and resources, the best way to solve the major problems or challenges of humanity is by working together. Here are a few very cool open source projects that are actively working to solve or reduce the effects of climate change:
Check them out when you have time!