It’s an obvious statement to make, but 2021 was … quite a year. Leaving aside my own personal family health journey, which I’ve written a lot about here, we saw an attempt at a fascist coup, and the second year of a pandemic that has now claimed 815,000 lives in the United States alone and millions worldwide.
For me, and many people, these facts were the backdrop to more pressing personal tragedies. Each life lost touches a family, for whom the effects will ripple out for generations. And beyond the direct lives lost, the pandemic pushed nearly 100 million people around the world into poverty.
We all deserve for shit to let up.
Shit is not going to let up.
We’re going to enter a third year of the pandemic. We have the anti-vaccination movement to thank for that, at least in part. I get that it doesn’t feel right to see the world fall in line behind these kinds of restrictions; I know I’d be upset to see them continue once the pandemic eases up. But for now, it’s how we save lives, and there’s something genuinely great about seeing people all over the world work together as a community. I haven’t met an anti-vaxxer who hasn’t come across like a selfish, petulant child.
Imagine how they’ll react to the acceleration of the worst effects of climate change. That’s coming, real soon.
How we react to the challenges ahead will define us. Can we come together as a community and work together for everyone’s benefit? Or will we squabble and argue and score cheap political points while the world burns? Will we adhere to our values, or will we succumb to fascism and nationalism as resources become more scarce?
I believe that Trump was a warm-up. His administration was obviously incompetent, but nonetheless almost succeeded in its aim. The next Trump, who might also literally be Trump, will not make the same mistakes.
In a world succumbing to conflict because resources are limited in adverse conditions, what would an authoritarian government do with surveillance capitalism? What would they do with all this connected data about each of us? History teaches us that the answer is something we should be thinking about.
How can we build a world where this is impossible? How can we build online infrastructure that cannot be used for ill by the worst actor? And then how can we get people to use it? These questions are worth taking very seriously right now.
I don’t believe the next decade will be plain sailing.
Anyway, hi, happy Monday.
This is my last thoughts and actions of the year. Next year I plan to post on social media significantly less, and to my own site significantly more. Likely this means several posts a day; RSS readers will get those in real time, but the email digests will still go out 3-4 times a week.
I want to seriously consider the questions above. You can’t build your way out of social problems, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t innovate or create new tools. What can we build that will empower people to build community in 2022 but will also provide freedom from surveillance?