The word "collapse" conjures up images of buildings imploding or bridges falling into the sea. Sudden catastrophic events.
While the collapse of human civilization will occasionally reach catastrophic milestones (e.g. multi-breadbasket failure), for the most part it will be an insidious process that leaves us of disillusioned and empty. Then hungry and desperate.
I am reminded of the T.S. Eliot poem called "The Hollow Men".
Day by day, life will become more miserable. Our rights will erode and things we take for granted slowly vanish. Over time, groups are marginalized and civil turns to savage.
You won't notice as it happens, but then one day you look back and realize the world has changed - starting to resemble a dystopian nightmare.
That day is today.
Yes, we are already experiencing collapse. The institutions, biosphere and social contracts on which our civilization depends are under attack.
What are some signs of collapse?
- The richest 1% own almost half the world's wealth
- Privacy is dead
- Politicians are kleptocrats
- Drone warfare is now a form of entertainment
That's just the beginning.
Below are 17 examples of how the world is deteriorating beneath our noses. The quotes are personal accounts of how daily life has turned dystopian.
Many of these signs have been normalized. Yet, when listed together it becomes apparent in which direction civilization is headed.
1) End of Ownership
Everything as a service. No software developer sells their packages anymore, you just owe $70 forever. Car companies are installing heated seats that you have to pay a monthly fee to us. No one owns music or movies, which just disappear from streaming services at a whim. Even that new gaming machine you purchased is useless without an internet connection and subscription. And all that which you do not own can be taken from you or have the prices jacked up after you’re dependent on it.
It’s the drug dealer philosophy of capitalism.
2) Ad Diarrhea
Everything is a fucking ad.
Spotify was made to not have many ads, now it's like a fucking radio station. I can barely watch youtube between the ads for god knows what. Every website I read has about 1 line of writing between ads. They're trying to use drones and blimps to put ads IN THE FUCKING SKY.
3) Invasive Species
I can't keep track of all the invasive things killing trees in Ohio. Asian longhorned beetle, woolly hemlock adelgid, beech leaf disease, emerald ash borer, sudden oak death, oak wilt, butternut canker, spotted lanternfly, chestnut blight, and Dutch elm disease off the top of my head. Not to mention the insect apocalypse. Seems people are ignoring basic ecology and how the food chain is collapsing.
4) Deep Fakes
Today someone used Deep Fake audio of the mayor of London pretending that he wanted to postpone remembrance day in solidarity with Palestinians. British police say this is not technically a crime.
5) Death of Truth
The death of the concept of truth.
Even tho Orwell plainly explained the whys & hows I am still regularly caught off-guard by just how successful the campaign to destroy the notion of truth has been.
And so, now that 'nothing is true', then 'everything is permissible' and we are all very severely fucked.
6) Technological Despair
How miserable we all are in the middle of what ought to be a golden age with all our technology.
Because that technology and the productivity increases it brings is not being used for human betterment. Still working 40-50 hours a week for no more pay while technology makes living more expensive (see: Zillow and Yieldstar driving up housing prices for example).
Technology is being used to train AI to be a hyper-effective misinformation machine that is eroding democracy around the world.
Yes. Technology has basically nothing to do with quality of life beyond a certain point. Developed countries reached that point in the 60/70s. Beyond that point, most technology was just cosmetic additions. The ability to be in contact any time at anywhere has mainly been a step backward as it allows for excessive workload and unreasonable social expectations of constant contact. We need to be focused more on actual quality of life, reducing workload, increasing community and so on. More "tech" won't fix any of it. Weird that we ever thought it would help really.
The volume of personal data we willingly give away, nearly every fucking day.
Its funny, the argument is that any service can offer its own ToS and so its our choice to pick that service; meanwhile in my country you cant even do physical banking anymore, its all tied to third party apps and the like and must be done electronically since banks no longer use physical money. Furthermore you need a phone to use the bank, the phone itself being a third party program.
My choice? My ass.
Even at ridiculous places. I went to a burger joint the other day that had order machines. Cool, let's try it.
Turns out you can't lodge an order without either A: signing in to your membership to this group, or B: placing a guest order, which requires giving your name, contact number, and email address. Absolutely bullshit, no need for that. Went elsewhere.
A private citizen (Edward Snowden) revealing every single persons phone connection being tapped and we all collectively forgot it and moved on.
8) Mass Social Engineering
The speed at which social engineering is taking place and how easy it is for one person to shape opinions. Very dangerous territory. Be careful.
Robots are composing poetry and painting art-pieces while the minerals for the devices said robots are made out of are mined by human children. Only, nobody cares because its happening somewhere else where people are poorer.
If that isn't the plot of a shitty dystopian YA novel, then I have sparkly skin and volunteer as tribute in the annual love-triangle games.
Artificial Intelligence which can create realistic pictures and video has grown almost overnight to the point that millions of people are seeing its content on social media everyday and believe what they are seeing is real.
10) Housing Affordability
Parking lots are opening across the United States for people working full time jobs who don’t make enough to afford rent so they live out of their cars. They’re touting this as an expansion of “affordable housing”
It's totally insane to me how poverty and homelessness have been rebranded as a lifestyle choice for trendy millennials. I know people doing the vanlife thing who really don't have any other options.
11) Insect Apocalypse
We are in an Insect Apocalypse!
Since the 1990’s insect populations have fallen by up to 90% globally due to human made insecticides, pollution and habitat loss.
If the insect population collapses every other animal population will also collapse!
I think it’s the degradation in quality of everything that’s shocking to me.
Prices creeping up. Amount of food going down. Nothing tastes right anymore. The old navy shirt I bought 20 years ago is fine, but if I buy from them today it will last 6 months at best.
You can barely feed two people at McDonalds for under $25
I don't have a word for it but many dystopian works focus on the ignorance and resultant stupidity of the general populace.
You want to see dystopia in progress? Follow the r/teachers subreddit. America is rapidly becoming a nation of ignoramuses who will be easily molded to the will of those in power.
14) Corruption of Representation
Lawmakers just straight up ignoring things the people voted for (Ohio).
15) Surveillance Society
You know, if you'd have told me 25 years ago that we'd be living in a time where our every move, purchase, and even heartbeat could be tracked by a watch or a phone, I'd have thought you were pitching a sci-fi thriller. But here we are, with gadgets on our wrists and in our pockets that map out our lives in data points, all while algorithms nudge us towards the next thing to buy or binge-watch. And let's not even get started on how companies and sometimes even governments have their eyes on that data, using it to figure us out better than we know ourselves. It's like we're all walking around in a digital Truman Show without ever having signed up for it. It's wild—our reality is starting to feel like someone took the plot of a dystopian novel and used it as a blueprint for the future.
16) Wealth Inequality
Economists in the '80s argued a 20:1 ratio between executive pay and average workers was ideal to stimulate the economy, maintain morale, and lift all the workers up. For reference, a CEO making $1 mil would be paying $50k to his staff. Seems reasonable.
Today the average in the US is closer to 300:1, and some of the worst companies are in the thousands. For example, last year Chipotle's CEO made about $18 mil while the median worker earned just $16k.
And they have the fucking balls to claim they need to raise prices.
17) Drone Warfare
Remote controlled semi autonomous flying manhack robots are chasing down illiterate Russian conscripts and blowing the them up with onboard improvised explosives, and their last gasps are set to hardbass techno and posted online daily.