There is no reason for hope — or is there?

New Year's letter - CPP / RF - January 2018

Whilst in Germany they eagerly discuss the credibility of “organic”-labelled cucumbers, because they are piled up in their individual plastic wrapping, the world order we’ve learned to live with in the last 50 years is crumbling away.

Human phenomenons like globalisation and digitisation are leaving their distinctive marks on our everyday lives. For instance, some very few of those, who sew our t-shirts and shoes, for a daily wage that equals the tip left after a round of coffees at a restaurant in Europe, are heading our way — to what they hope is a better life. They are motivated by the images they see on their communication devices, and led by maps that we have brought to life through big data trading companies in exchange for our privacy.

On the other hand, some very few of those,- who understood early on the grand socio-political power arising from the clever combination of data, psychology, and media policy — are turning our democratic structures upside down.

 For example, we had to recently discover that US federal judges can be appointed without taking into account their competence. The UK could be baited out of the EU using cheap reasoning, kindergarten spaces in China will soon be awarded to well-behaved citizens first; and in the German parliament, right-wing extremists can take part in discussions since the 2017 election. All this has been possible because we have stopped jointly writing on the uniting story of a democratic, pluralistic world and society.

We have instead replaced it with filter bubbles and preference-based perceptions of reality wherein we can now find everything we always wanted when seeking to fill the holes in our biography or identity by explaining the faults of the world. We would rather do this than find the solution and explanation within us. 

Now they stand at our doors and we wonder where have they all come from? What do they want? Can’t we just send them away — these ghosts of the Digital Modern era?

We know they are here to stay. We secretly know that at the end of the day we — along with our parents and grandparents — in this first, privileged, world are connected with the rest of this planet irrevocable. Connected through new, digital possibilities and instruments beyond the power of physical borders. We can see what’s going on in the other side of the world at any given time with a few clicks. It’s also because of these new gadgets that we know that billions of people are striving to live in prosperity, following our example; and they will continue to do so over the coming decades. A few brains organise how this desire should or should not be achieved via their gigantic communication platforms.


It’s bloody convenient to be the chief editor of our realities, isn’t it?

So this is it. They are here, all these consequences of stepping onto virgin soil. And still we wonder. The longer we wonder, the harder it gets to shake off the feeling that the world is not the same anymore. Values and paradigmes are shifting. While the representatives of governments and corporations repeatedly tell us ‘Everything’s fine, business as usual’. But not everyone followed the oh so German motto “Whoever has visions, please seek a doctor”. Some have taken off, seeking to re-establish the connection. Human beings from different generations, diverse nationalities, and educational backgrounds have taken off into the world; courageous, curious, and empathic toward these shifting paradigms. They care for new ideas of cooperation and participation; find new ways of decentralised or even distributed information and, therefore, power organisation. Let’s ask them how we can deal with these big challenges arising in the Digital Modern era. We’ll most definitely find motives for new discourses.

Because there is reason for hope.