"Shift Happens"

This attention-getting video clip is a bit of futurist forecasting, with emphasis on demographic and information technology-driven changes.

I just wonder how poor old human beings, with our ape brains, are going to cope. Just consider the havoc created by one technological advance: cheap, reliable, non-intrusive birth control, as in The Pill. Forty years later, we still haven’t adapted. Female reproductive control means women have better access to work of all kinds and can have real careers, women have more money, men have more competition, women don’t have to put up with marriages that don’t suit them (note even if the guy filed for divorce, the cause may well be the woman’s refusal to be compliant and subservient), ergo higher divorce rate and all these new complicated child rearing arrangements and family structures. If you believe the New York Times Style pages, what women want seems to change every 10 years, which means we haven’t reached a new equilibrium yet.

The factiod I found most striking was the one on how many jobs people will have over their working life. For most adults, the workplace is our main community. Changing jobs is a high stress event. Similarly, starting a new job, even if it is one you sought, is also hard psychologically. But if this forecast is correct, a change in degree will be a change in kind. Jobs will be so transient that many people won’t invest in forming relationships at the office.

And humans do need relationships, even casual ones. It’s part of our wiring (the limbic brain, to be precise). Primates and babies that don’t get enough nurturing early on either die or are highly disturbed. And it’s not as if we can switch off these needs once we exit infancy (although they do become less intense as we are better able to care for ourselves).

It seems this brave new world will require lots of Prozac.

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