When a Shiny New Technology is being hyped, it’s in order to pump the stock up, or get venture capital.
That’s how the hype cycle game is played, and it happens among mostly consenting adults. Fair enough you might say. No hype and nothing gets done (maybe).
But when it comes to social movement hype cycles, the rules of the game should be different. We who know better (old farts, or well-read, or generally cynical) should not be enabling the bullshit artists, the naive or the self-aggrandizing sociopaths who promote themselves and their projects as the Next Big and Transformative Thing.
Why? Because all that happens in a technological hype cycle is that some investors lose money, everyone dusts themselves off, picks themselves off and the game goes on.
But we have an emergency right now, [yes, it has always been an emergency somewhere – for any civilisation or other species that was coming into contact with whitey in the last 500 years for example- now it is planet-wide]. And that means that social movements cannot afford to lose 80 or 90% of their potential recruits in the aftermath of stupidly hyped events/’projects’ which lead to the dashing of (unrealistic) expectations. The clocks are ticking, and we really really don’t have time for a new generation of potential activists to grow up, or for the burnt-out ones to lick their wounds and forget enough of the last hype cycle to get cautiously involved in the next one.
After a hype cycle people become more cynical, less available for a decent group/project.
And the cynicism ramifies and extends further, to their friends and friends of friends.
We cannot afford this. We have to call bullshit. We can’t just say ‘that’s how life works’.
Because it’s not us – comfortable middle-class Westerners with water coming out of our taps and electricity coming out of our sockets, with something vaguely approaching the rule of law and freedom of speech who will suffer in the next twenty years.* We have a very slender opportunity to create the psychological/social infrastructure for SOME sort of tolerable ‘civilized’ life for some of our species and perhaps reduce the apocalypse of the Sixth Great Extinction. But that slender opportunity only exists if we refuse to collude in the propagation of shite.
* After that, of course, all bets are off.
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