Pixels Over People

12 Jun 2024

We live in a dystopian world consumed with the relentless pursuit of success. An unstoppable fire destroying the richness of human experience, sidelining passion, mastery, and self-discovery.

Today, we hang on to the words of billionaire tech founders like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and Mark Zuckerberg. While intellectuals, poets, activists, and innovators like Noam Chomsky, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Arundhati Roy, Tim Berners-Lee, Jennifer Doudna, and many more are relegated to the pages of a history no one will get to read.

But don’t worry; AI is here to save the day. It will use the energy of a small city to compress their life’s work into data and content, infuse it into a non-offensive generative soup you can consume in seven-second bursts on the next billion-dollar antisocial social media app.

Nuance is dead. It’s black or white, in or out, win or lose, rich or poor. You are one or the other. The zero-one binary mindset is eating its way into every aspect of our lives.

We study not to learn but to find high-paying jobs. We search not to discover but to find the path to riches. We invest not to support or because we believe but to grab a piece of the pie before someone else takes it. And we build armies, not to defend life but to destroy the lives of others to protect the only way to live this life, our way.

Who needs dreams when we can spend countless hours watching others achieve theirs? Who cares if it’s scripted just enough to seem real? Real is boring and requires effort. We want effortless Instagram lives with followers who like and comment just enough to keep us going.

Isolated and disconnected, success becomes the only way to make sense of this hollow version of life. It is an endless cycle of doing more to get more, doing even more to get even more, as if we are feeding an insatiable black hole forever within, trapping the light of who we really are.

The essence of our humanity withers as we spend years working to secure a career instead of building a life. The joy of discovery, the richness of genuine connections, and simple pleasures are sacrificed at the altar of success.

So-called innovative companies spend billions to bring us mobile gaming and streaming while an entire population in the Democratic Republic of Congo scrounges for the cobalt they need for their batteries in hazardous, slave-like conditions for a dollar or two a day. It’s hunger and suffering for them, faster internet and streaming on the go for us.

Every day, our capitalistic system chooses pixels over people and winning--over living--relentlessly pushing us into a binary abyss where lives are governed by algorithms, and worth is measured in dollars, likes, and shares.

In the pursuit of digital perfection, we are drowning in a digital deluge, reduced to data points and monetized engagement, while the world reels with environmental degradation, social inequality, and mental health crises.

With no hero in sight or savior to pull us from the brink, we are stuck in the pain of the moment. We can’t return to a forgotten past nor leap into an uncertain future. All we have is a shared reality and our choices.

The stakes have never been higher; the world of tomorrow is in the balance, and the price is our humanity, values, and planet.