One of the big trends and socio-economic trajectories I’m focused on right now is the concept of how life is becoming untethered from reality.
I’m not just talking about virtual / augmented reality and literal virtual escapism; and fake news and deep fakes either (although that’s indeed an important part of it), rather I’m talking about how truth itself is rapidly finding itself on the wrong side of history.
From an economic perspective:
Value has been decoupled from real world resources (and therefore wealth is decoupled from scarcity, with massively destabilising effects – Limits to growth? What limits? – When “value” can be created in virtual worlds from virtual currencies without being constrained by reality?)
Spending (both private and public) have become untethered from saving. The very idea of “budget constraints” has been discarded in favour of write-your-own-cheques-with-imaginary-money Modern Monetary Theory (or Magic Money Theory as I like to call it).
As Herbert Hoover said: “Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.”
From a social perspective:
Facts have less value than feelings – entire scientific fields have become “unplayable” because the truths they are uncovering are incompatible with the acceptable narrative.
White lies, perpetuated by powerful voices such as the idea that surveillance is necessary for security – the false idea that liberty requires increased state security – or that perpetual war in the middle east is necessary for “peace” back “home” in the West – conjure up echos of Orwell and are designed to make us question our own sanity.
Of course, all these untethered ideas rely on us believing in them – against the evidence of our senses – in order for them to continue to exist.
In short, facts and truth are not only no longer needed in this new “reality” we find ourselves in – they are no longer even desirable.
How long will our belief in the impossible yet necessary hold?
And what happens when it fails?
These are the questions currently keeping me awake at night…