These days I often feel as if I am living in a horror movie of the twilight zone variety. People appear to be under some kind of mind control, that seems to be emanating from the handheld devices they all carry with them. Here is how this manifests itself: I tell someone about how severe and imminent the climate crisis really is, usually using the Alien Invasion Analogy. There is a brief moment in which they appear genuinely disturbed. You can see in their eyes that they grasp the magnitude of the problem, that they see the world clearly for at least an instant. Then just a few minutes later – often after consulting their little handheld device – they are back to where they were before. Oblivious to an extinction level threat to humanity.
Now you might say: there’s nothing new here. Don’t you remember Cassandra? You might also say that this is just yet another instance of the post truth world we find ourselves in. And while both of these are good points, I think there is more going on here. Sure people don’t like to get bad news. And yes there’s constant misinformation undermining all narratives. But this is still more. It feels much more akin to a state of collective hypnosis. The closest comparison that I can think of is being personally spellbound during dotcom bubble and achieving clarity of thought only after it had burst.
All of this is massively disconcerting. Not just since it feels weird to be trapped inside a movie. But rather because so many of the strategies that people are talking about for combatting the climate crisis – or achieving other fundamental change for that matter – seem massively inadequate. For example, thinking that we can just iterate on messaging until we find the right language and then everyone will understand. It just won’t do. People do understand, if ever so briefly, but then go back into their hypnotic state.
I don’t really know what to do with any of this, but felt like sharing in case other people are living the same experience. Also, all ideas for what to do welcome!