Bear with me here, because I swear there is a multi-layered point I’m going to make, and it might just blow your mind.
There was this Pokemon commercial that played way back when, one of the earliest of its breed. The premise was a black-and-white world, crowds of people in a hurry to get nowhere, and in the midst of it color would blossom. Children in full vibrancy would stand and look skyward, and a narrator spoke about an awakening, about how few were aware of the change that was coming to the world. Pokemon was mentioned only in the outro, the product little more than an afterthought.
Pokemon is successful, yes, but the product is the least part of what that brand sells. They’re pushing a culture based on the idea of collection and co-operative competition, where the best people aspire to make themselves and everyone else around them better. Only the villains are in it for their own gains and victory, and their pride and their greed makes them laughable and pathetic. It’s the desire to be the best for the sake of being the best that becomes the core theme of that culture, and it all goes back to that first commercial, pushing awakening instead of product.
That’s been an on-going thing for decades now, since flickering fictions became a means of conveying meaning and depth. We moved from novels to radio to movies to television to YouTube to Netflix, historically speaking, in the blink of an eye. The information most likely to stick with you doesn’t come from dry history but from the stories around it, the recreations and tales that we tell ourselves.
When we as a species first started sharing stories on a national stage, the world changed.
See, when we started sharing our stories we started sharing and contrasting our cultural norms. Philosophies that had existed only in the bubble of their geographic range were allowed to move beyond those borders for the first time. Descartes and Socrates met with Lao Tze and al Razi. The ability to sell culture led to the idea of created wealth, which meant that we could move beyond the idea of land, access, or minerals being the sole measures of value.
This idea was what allowed the United States to flourish and become a super power. By exporting culture as commodity worldwide and selling people on the idea of the American Dream – whereby anyone could become royalty through passion, dedication, and intelligence – the United States was able to become the wealthiest nation the world had ever seen, and to foster an environment of unprecedented growth.
Yes, they had problems along the way, but the consistent progress they were able to make as a culture allowed them to continue to be a powerhouse, right up until they crippled their culture for shortsighted political and economic gains that were what the United States constitution had been drafted to distance themselves from in the first place.
Sadly, most of the people that talk about that constitution have never read it, certainly don’t understand it, and are in the process of killing it. They’ve murdered their own culture for no good reason, and more than just their nation is failing because of it.
A culture without integrity is doomed to failure, and the United States would increasingly rather celebrate an old world that never existed rather than help create a new and better one. This means that they’re falling back into old habit patterns and ways of thinking that don’t really apply, and the only people that are challenging them are – wait for it – the geeks that spent so long being ridiculed for their intelligence.
If you need proof of this, look at Star Trek. A single show promised a better future – equality of races and sexes through the end of toxic patriotism, patriarchy and scarcity economics by means of technology. In the decades since, people adopted the tenants and culture of Star Trek as personal ideologies. They were mocked for it, of course, as intelligence became increasingly vilified by those with a vested interest in keeping scarcity economics a thing.
The trick of it was, they were using tools crafted by intelligent people to push their anti-intelligent agenda.
And the Star Trek fans? The ones that had internalized the culture of that show enough to look into science, engineering, and philosophy? They went about creating the technologies of that culture and pushing them as commodities for public consumption.
Cell phones? Star Trek. Smart phones? Star Trek again. iPads? Star Trek yet again.
As the technologies became accepted, so did the culture that came with them – the inclusive cultures, the ones that pushed for the world to be better. The one that wouldn’t turn a blind eye to systematic racism and sexism, to so-called acceptable levels of political and economic corruption.
There’s a whole thing that became popular about supporting the lesser evil, but intelligence will not and cannot accept evil as a choice; as a culture, we aim for the greatest good. And what culture is this, that pushes ideals of progress, integrity, and inclusion? Geek culture. The culture that grew out of Lord of the Rings and comic books and Star Trek.
Why do you think we spend so much time talking about geeky things?
The culture around those things is the birthplace of everything that is going to matter.
When you buy a tablet, you’re not buying a piece of technology: you’re buying a means of gathering and ingesting culture, and everything that goes with it. When you go see Iron Man in theaters you’re watching a story about a man seeking to better himself and the world through co-operative competition with his friends and allies, while the villains become pathetic and laughable because of their pride and greed.
Which brings us back to Pokemon and that commercial we started this out on.
See, the trick of that commercial was that, yes, it was pushing a culture – but not just the culture of Pokemon. The resonance of that commercial came from it speaking of of a global change, an awakening to a greater power and a greater responsibility.
The world we are moving into is one of fantastic possibility, where the prejudices and hatreds of the past will be nothing more than the shades of a world that no longer matters. When culture becomes commodity, the culture with the greatest level of integrity and inclusiveness wins.
Few were aware of the change that was coming to the world, but the change is here and it’s gonna catch us all.
Mind = blown.