Section from Nocturnal Figure Composition (2004) by George Condo.
In the American television show, Rectify (2013), one character describes the basic instincts of human nature which endure across thousands of years, "Just don't let all this technology lull you, son. If you think we're in modern times, watch yourself." Those of you clutching your glowing iPhones, beware the undertow, because some things don't change. From the Russian film Nightwatch (Ночной дозор 2004): "It is easier for a man to destroy the light inside himself than to defeat the darkness around him."
That film depicts a comforting mythical battle between light and dark; but the more common Millennial experience is shades of grey. Even when progress is progressive, it comes at a terrible cost. The price is paid at unexpected moments, because everywhere there is a gap between action and consequences.
In wealthy countries, technology has intensified the divide between public and private lives, while making them overlap again in radical ways. The plugged-in citizen is disconnected from his or her everyday humanity and loses sight of the good and bad in human nature. Yet technology paradoxically extends human impulses and capabilities at inhuman speeds. In 2013, the Red Cross tried to remarry cause and effect in gamers' experiences, by insisting that gamers should be subject to war crimes laws inside gaming scenarios.
Technology allows anything violent, sordid, degenerate or brutal to be removed from immediate accountability. The unconscious or semi-conscious drift of technological seduction forgets that virtual experiences are actions in the real world. Will the blurring of dual realities - subjective and objective, individual and collective, self and other, domestic and foreign, real and virtual, real and fake - make people more aware of how all these worlds are all the same? Usually they only consider this point when virtual and real collide in embarrassing or criminal ways.
Pornography, populated by amateur suburbanites and professional modern slaves, has established the New Normal in online social interaction. Researcher Melissa Farley finds several direct economic connections between online porn consumption and human trafficking. In Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, she writes:
"Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates 27.8 billion USD per year."You can see reports on Farley's site, Prostitution Research, here, here and here. Other reports on the connections between online porn and human trafficking are here, here and here.
The result? There are more slaves in the world today, almost 30 million people, than at any other time in history. Trafficked people work, online and offline, mainly in the sex industry. But they also make electronics, food, clothing and a vast number of consumer goods. The survey How many slaves work for you? allows users to estimate how many slaves contribute to their daily lives.
The title of this post is taken from Asahi newspaper's 2012 article series which asserted that Fukushima plant management intended to evacuate all personnel during the meltdowns at the Japanese plant in 2011, a point which TEPCO refutes (hat tip: EXSKF blog). Fukushima should have been a watershed moment, when we all became atheists about technology. Instead, the Fukushima disaster was greeted with complacency, confusion, misinformation, and government blackouts. Is Tokyo still safe a safe place to live? Who knows? Photographer Donald Weber said in a Vice interview: "I see Tokyo now as the ... archetypal apocalyptic city. It's the perfect place for the world to end." Rather than making global players reassess the world's insatiable need for energy, Fukushima led to a renewal of nuclear contracts and a redoubling of the building of nuclear plants around the world under the banner of 'green energy.'
Gaps in consciousness between developed and developing countries, the divide between wealth and poverty, between savagery and civilization are all illusions, because everything is intimately connected. Below, a Vice report on the Cannibal Warlords of Liberia. If you think this carnage is far removed from your reality, consider that you're watching it on Youtube.
Cannibal Warlords of Liberia (2012) © Vice. Video Source: Youtube.