June 21 – 3: The pace of modern life

I love this xkcd strip – it elegantly expresses something that I have trouble articulating sometimes, but that I definitely agree with. People have always fretted over new technology destroying society, over how our morals are declining, over how kids act these days – and broadly, over how society is going down the tubes. But really, as I posted yesterday, human society is amazingly adaptable. We figure things out. And almost invariably, those who complain about the downfall of society are wrong.

(Of course, there are a few historical exceptions, but in those cases, the problems were less with society as a whole than with the society’s leaders – which isn’t really what the comic is referring too. Furthermore, once the leaders in those countries were out of power, society more or less stabilized itself and carried on progressing in more positive directions. But I digress.)

Society changes. That’s just the way of things. And change is always hard, and a little scary, and is inevitably going to cause people to feel nostalgic for the “way things used to be.” But most of the time, most of the changes are improvements – otherwise, people wouldn’t accept them and they wouldn’t be happening. 

So the next time you hear someone grumbling about how “back in my day, everything was shiny rainbows and unicorns” or whatever (or feel inclined to grumble yourself), just remember that society has always been changing and evolving, and it always will. And change is uncomfortable. But it’s also an inevitable part of humanity’s growth and development, which, overall, seems to be headed in the right direction.

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June 10 – 3: Nerd humor

This xkcd comic today reflected my feelings about the recent revelations about NSA surveillance pretty accurately. No, I’m not happy that the government is monitoring our Internet usage. Yes, I think it’s a violation of our civil liberties to have the government intruding into our communications. But even more than that, I think that for the most part, it’s a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money, because they’re going to get so much useless data back, and sifting through it to find the relevant data seems like it probably takes more time and energy than it’s worth.

At least it gives us something to laugh/cry about, though. (And don’t worry – a post on Dwarf Fortress is coming at some point – it’s another of my favorite super nerdy computer games)