Further Elder Geek Thoughts: Maturity

Last column I explored how conventions were a place where the silly and the serious, the fun and the professional, combined. It was where you could cut loose – and then the inspiration could be channeled. It was where panels fanning over Sleepy Hollow* are then followed by workshops on writing. Conventions are a liminal space.

Serdar, my multitalented friend, noted in response that for many people, when they become a so-called adult, they often limit what they consider the fun they can have. Conventions are spaces where we can actually just like what we like, and are thus valued. Well, like what we like with the occasional stupid argument, but still.

That got me thinking about media and what is considered “age-appropriate materials” – and how such ideas are actually rather irrelevant, misguided, and confusing.

Because when we talk about what media is mature or not, suitable for adults or kids, it’s often meaningless. It’s assumptions without substance.

Assuming we have a grasp on what is “truly mature media” really is a bit immature . . .

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Transhumanism And Maturity

To understand that doing the right thing is its own reward is a higher form of transcendence than many other things, because it makes possible a whole realm of things that come from nowhere but within. Power over the material world, including one’s own body, cannot make up for what lacks on the inside.

Now let me push the discussion even further: Is it possible that the transhumanist mission will make it all the easier to do just this? It might, but so far I haven’t seen evidence that it will. There might well come a time when we have a working technocratic approach to spiritual needs, but so far I don’t see it.

Serdar calls out a major issue here that transhumanism as it stands now isn’t exactly pushing us to forms of transcendence that seem to be, well . .. transcendent. There’s a lot of immortalism and brain-downloading and AI in the mix, but there’s not a lot about becoming better people in any way we really understand it. Living forever means little when most people kind of wish you weren’t around since you’re such a jerk.

I’ve noted that I consider a lot of transhumanism that’s simplistic, that which I call “Simplistic Immortalism,” is really quite immature. In this case, as opposed to seeing that as just a criticism, we should consider it as a state.

Transhumanism as we know it in the west, a kind of human-enhancement futurism, is really relatively new. In my admittedly random is broad readings of science and culture and fiction I can’t find much evidence of it past a century or two (and some of that being cautionary). The idea of positive evolution isn’t as common as people may think these day; witness how “the good old days” is something many people have talked about in many cultures throughout the ages.

Therefore, we should consider Transhumanism as we know it as essentially immature in the vein of a newborn or an young adolescent. It has to grow up and probably will at some point. Right now it’s still in a stage of gee-wiz, cool technology, and few thoughts of repercussions. It’s probably not helped by a consumerist mentality

How it will mature and what will help it mature is an interesting question. It’s also interesting to ask what mistakes can and will be made along the way, how movements and interests will split and come together, and how allies and enemies will be made. Transhumanism as we know it now has really just started.


Violence, Cynicism, and False Maturity

Several times in my life I’ve encountered people who seemed honestly stunned or dismissive of the idea of avoiding violent confrontation in political, military, and even personal spheres.  There seemed to be something that didn’t register to them that the best solution was not always the one with the highest body count, the most blood, and the greatest number of smoking craters.  The idea that a less or no-violent solution may produce better results seemed alien to them, weak, or even laughable.

Of course most of the people I knew like this grew up.  When I look at our “3Ps” (politicians, preachers, and pundists) that are most popular, I’m seeing a lot of people who didn’t grow up.  Oddly, they posture themselves as the mature ones.

Similarly, in politics, in media, in punditry, it seems that nothing is too cynical, too dark, too nihilistic not to propose.  The more cynical the view the better, is the rule it seems, and thus we have people who denounce many if not a majority of their own countrypeople as evil, or contemptable.   We see it in media that vies to be the bloodiest, darkest view of people imaginable because it’s “true” – in short, it’s what we want to think.  Cynicism is seen as maturity.

Violence and cynicism (often mixed with sarcasm, which drags down sarcasm’s good name) are postulated as being mature.

Stepping back for a moment, these are two traits that very much are not mature.  To engage in violence for no good reason is a mark of pathology.  To be in a race to hate the most things is insanity.  Yet, it is considered mature.

It is considered, in short, realistic.  Upon reflection it’s certainly not realistic since it’s basically having highly predetermined and unchangable worldviews.  But it’s pitched as “realism.”

Realism is about cause and effect, true maturity and understanding, goals and achieving them, people and working with them.  We’ve traded real maturity for a kind of regressed adolescence of violent fantasies (of course those having the fantasies assume they’ll be untouched) and dark speculations (which of course justify the dark fantasies).

Next time you look at Congress, or our media, ask yourself how much is maturity and how much is faux maturity.

Then at that point, you may need to drink.  But do so in a mature manner.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.