thoughts & essays   |   jeremy lee

 . . . should we pursue a future that (1) accepts the inevitable death of our planet and make the most of the time that remains or (2) engineer our way to multi-planetary existence? The purpose of this essay is to explore some features of each option with the intent of persuading the reader to consider how one shared consequence of both, i.e. boredom, would impact their life, and society at-large. Some may find the magnitude of a first principle perspective such as this grandiose and prohibitively unfathomable; in such case, I respectfully disagree and ask for at least a minimum effort in considering, maybe even accepting, the truth of Earth’s destiny despite the fact you will likely never have to encounter the effects in your own lifetime.

“It’s free and always will be.” Hard to fathom that I once felt relief at the sight of this reassuring tagline when logging in to Facebook. Along with other early users, I signed up during Facebook’s relative infancy, at a time when the website was restricted to college students with a valid “.edu” email. As a freshman undergrad attending university out-of-state I had a particularly active engagement with the social network. I missed my friends, most of whom had remained in-state for school, and Facebook gave me a fun, free, quasi-teleportation device to stay up-to-date and in-touch with them. Indeed, I felt social fulfilment from the engagement Facebook provided, but also a sense of dread. I could hardly afford my books for class—what if this fulfilment I’d come to rely on decided to charge for the service? At the time, the tagline, “It’s free and always will be,” helped alleviate that fear. Ironically, however, fifteen years and an eruption of exponentially dangerous privacy concerns later, the “free” use of services such as Facebook is now the source of dread.

The ability to recognize patterns in human behavior has long been a tool used to shape desired results. Indeed, the fields of social psychology and behaviorism have shown, scientifically, that human behavior can be influenced and modified. Today these patterns, when analyzed and applied effectively through technology, have the potential to shape society with unprecedented precision. The central theme of this essay is questioning the purpose behind aggregating, analyzing, and modifying human behaviors as they relate to capitalist or humanist interests.