As a social studies instructor, I think this question is perhaps the most important of our time.
Never before have we had the option to end our entire existence. And as time marches on, our options for ending ourselves only continue to grow more numerous. The nuclear age has given us the most obvious and instant way in which humans can extinguish life.
This threat still looms over us despite the Cold War ending after Rocky defeated Drago in an epic bout of punching and endurance nearly 30 years ago.
Perhaps if more people knew just how close we have come to Kingdom Come, more would demand that more reductions should take place. Or not. Humans are terrible at recognizing threats that aren’t literally staring them in the face like the barrel of a gun.
Shifting gears to the classroom (don’t worry, the existential dread will be touched upon again) and we know already how social media has been used for awful things by teenagers and adults alike. Yet, most if not all of my students have at least one app on their phone they use to send messages, pictures, and the like to one another (no seriously, I did a survey).
But teens are different you say. “Their brains are still forming, no duh they make bad choices”, you smugly say to yourself in an effort to feel better about the future. Unfortunately, there are some disturbing trends that correlate with this increase in technology access that should cause you some serious concern.
Yet we march on just hoping that our treatment facilities and raised awareness will offset these issues. And maybe as the stigma slowly wanes regarding mental health some improvements will be made. However, those who manage and deal with mental health problems may not have many people they can speak to. The sad irony is that while we’ve never been more connected to one another, we’ve also never felt more isolated from each other.
Did I say we’d return to the existential dread? Sorry, I lied. We never left it.
Now that we’ve established I’m a liar. Let’s go further down this rabbit-hole.
Privacy as we know it is dead. The PATRIOT Act and all of our alphabet agencies secured it as a measure of “national security”. You might be saying, “well, at least we aren’t living in China or some dictatorship.” Despite being technically true, which we all know is the best form of truth.
Speaking of China, they, in their infinite wisdom, decided to institute a “social credit” system that monitors individuals’ behaviors and rates them on how well they are as a “citizen”. If your score drops too low then you may be barred from traveling or starting a business. The future is bright indeed.
“That’s the problem with those dang socialist commie governments!” a right-leaning fellow says, probably. If the government just stopped interfering and let us live our lives we’d be fine, right?