In a comment on Instead of a Total Economic Collapse, Sean FitzGerald asked me "where do I get my optimism from?" Here's my answer.
If this planet was only perpetuating it's over consumption of industrialized production, I'd experience no optimism. If our only source of news, perspective and updates was the sensationalizing broadcast media of the modern era, I'd be down in the dumps. If we were only persisting in print literacy, authoritative sources of expertise and scarce access to archives of ink on paper, I'd be figuring we're all doomed. If people we're still working in hierarchical, silo-cubicles, hiding behind their job descriptions and passing the buck, there would be no hope for humans. if the effect of electronics, connectivity and digitization was to make us more inconsiderate, intolerant of each other and isolated from communities, I'd assume our breed of life forms is toast. If ecosystems and climates sought revenge for getting abuse instead of naturally restoring balance, I'd figure the extinction of our species was imminent. Happily, none of the above is true.
The industrialized era fragmented individuals into formalized and specialized jobs which undermined their solving problems informally. I see a reversal of that condition where collaborative problem solving is on the rise. If everyone solves the problems in their immediate situation each day, humanity will adapt to catastrophic changes as they occur. The risk of planning for the wrong future won't be an issue. The present moment is enough to handle, just as it is for every resilient species that has endured through many millennia before us.
The introduction of alphabets and printed pages got us taking everything literally. We thrived on news and expertise. This disenchantment with mystery, wonder and magnificence gave us scientific reasoning and technological advances at great cost to environments, societies and individual lives. Print literacy has also compromised our right brain functionality to develop the capacity to read and write. As we return to post-modern oratory, political theater, storytelling, picturing experiences and celebrating life, our right brains will come back into balance. Besides rational thinking, we'll benefit from much more creativity, whole-mindedness, imagination, inspired timing, and innovative solutions.
The organization of work into factories and bureaucracies made hordes of us small minded. We stopped: learning from what happened, taking responsibility for long term effects and understanding others different from ourselves. As more work gets done by cooperation, improvisation and reciprocation, we'll remain open minded as fortress walls come down. We'll comprehend what setbacks are teaching us and then see opportunities to try smarter next time. We'll make sense of situations in ways that improve our responses, resilience and connectedness.
Mechanistic technologies set us up to oppose nature and disregard the climatological effects of our excesses. We related to others by dehumanizing, de-personifying and disgracing them. Our hubris fed into over population, over expansion, over harvesting and over-extension beyond our limitations. Digital technologies have us feeling more ecological, one with all living things and aware of repercussions. We sense how connected we are and how essential it is to be respectful of every imaginable other.
Nature and the climate taught us nothing as we built smog filled cities next to rivers that we polluted as we over worked the land. Now nature is raising the stakes before flunking us out of the class. The lessons are more obvious. The penalties are more immediate. The benefits are more tangible. Evolutionary pressures have always worked wonders to convince species to adapt. Life goes on regardless of how any particular species copes with the pressures. I think we're much more likely to respond like bacteria than dinosaurs -- given our new granular level of resourcefulness appearing initially as millions of user content generators.
For these reasons, I'm optimistic about our long term prospects.