Were The Mayans Right?
According to the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012 signaled the end of the 13th Bak’tun, an almost 400 year period in the Maya long-count calendar. Per Mayan philosophy, the end of the long count represents the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new one.
Was it intended to predict the end of the world?
Actually, no, that’s just our society’s interpretation.
What’s more interesting, are the parallels to our contemporary world.
In our new reality, influenced most obviously by technological innovations like the iPhone and the internet, we are drifting further away from human consciousness.
Our new normal is characterized by a departure from thought to an existence comparable to that of animals, where action is taken out of instinct versus thoughtful inquiry. Or simply, asking why.
As author Nicholas Carr of The Shallows finds, we are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.
The initial interactions in dating, for example, are now akin to an instinctual response to photos via swipes on a screen, rather than mindful musings of who a person is and how you might get along.
Our means of communication, too, emphasizes speed and quantity, over meaning and quality. While your Instagram following may improve your credibility in the digi-sphere, it does not correlate to your capacity to concentrate, contemplate and reflect – which ultimately defines your credibility as a person in the end.
We are moving away from why and disproportionately focused on what.
In Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, he observes the upending effects Big Data could have on our world. Harari notes in light of algorithms taking over many decision-making processes, humans are becoming “less agile, less curious and less resourceful.”
“If we are not careful, we will end up with downgraded humans misusing upgraded computers to wreak havoc on themselves and on the world.
Maybe the Mayans were right. How do we navigate this new reality?
This first step is to be aware that these things are happening, and accept the implications for our world. Only then can we apply meaningful action to ensure we, as a species, sustain and grow ourselves for the future.
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