We Don’t Want to Know

Yesterday I was returning home on my bicycle from an anti-growth rally, rolling quickly downhill, when a runner suddenly burst out into the street from between two parked cars. She was simultaneously running and talking on her cell phone and didn’t see me. I came very close to hitting her. It strikes me as a near perfect image of something I see happening.

I believe we’re heading for catastrophe. Not just America, but this whole global system that we’ve promulgated — insisted upon, really. Everyone’s hooked now. They talk about revolutions in communication, finance, energy, education, entertainment, and blah blah blah. Everything is happening very, very quickly. We’re making all these changes without carefully considering them. Anyone who would suggest that we slow it down and think it over first is a Luddite. It’s inevitable that one of these so-called revolutions is going to get us. You can’t keep running forward blindly, obsessed with your gadget, and not have a big accident at some point. For example, if cell phones do cause brain cancer, it’s not something most users — let alone manufacturers — want to know. Most people dismiss any evidence that suggests this is happening without even looking at it. This is what always happens before a catastrophe: People become deaf to warnings. This is happening with climate change, the weirdness of the financial world, energy usage, as well as our addiction to technology. I don’t know where it will come from, but something is going to get us.


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11 Responses to “We Don’t Want to Know”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Yup! It seems like, at least here in Denver anyway, at least half the population is on auto-pilot, has already gone nuts, or both. Every day I have to go out and drive, which is a lot since that is what my job requires, other drivers constantly threaten my safety because they either don’t know the rules of driving, or don’t care. Or maybe they’re texting. I don’t know. I’m really glad you didn’t have an accident, Mark. I just drive with the assumption that nobody else can see me, and drive accordingly. Still, I’ve been rear-ended 3 times in the past 2 years not because of anything I did like slam on my brakes, but because I was either slowing down or stopped because traffic ahead of me was slowing down or stopped, or I was approaching a red light. The other day I was waiting to exit out of a driveway, onto a busy parkway, and a giant pickup truck behind me began to repeatedly honk at me because I refused to blast into 3 lanes of bumper-to-bumper oncoming traffic going 40 mph. I don’t know what the answer is. There are a lot of predatory, obnoxious people running around, and there are a lot of asleep people running around, such as the runner you almost ran into. I don’t know what the answer is. These people create a constant danger for everyone, and I bet a year’s pay that there is nothing anyone can do or say to get them to pay attention. Hopefully they don’t get run over.

  2. rainnnn Says:

    Or it might not and that’s the uncertainty that lets people ignore possible consequences and odds. By the time they know for sure, it’ll likely be too late. What bothers me is the only thing they really look at to decide is dollars. And dollars won’t buy anything if catastrophe really befalls. 😦 With such a large group of people counting on an intervening god (given the Bible stories not sure they know which way that would be), facts are ignored in terms of fate. It’s a frustrating time where science is being denigrated to get more money or power 😦

  3. joe Says:

    Predatory or asleep,or both,(figuring they’re safe ’cause they feel they’re the biggest shark in their particular waters,As If,-in a globalized world!) yup,that just about sums it up.No wonder so many are once again considering some degree of going off grid –some of us consider that we’ve gotten to the point where plan b Is the immediate future,& about time too.California’s apparently going to have to let 30% of it’s farmable land rest due to drought & water shortage,(Q:how do you spell No Vegetables? A:H-y-d-r-a-u-l-i-c F-r-a-c-t-u-r-i-n-g) & China’s actually Put Out a call for enviornmental engineers ’cause the pollution’s gotten so bad some of their scientists are predicting (again) that their crops might be seriously affected a la “neo-nuclear winter” due to lack of direct sunlight! Reminds me of the old valedictorian speech utah phillips joke: “You’re about to be told that you’re america’s greatest natural resource;have you Seen what they do to natural resources?? Make a break for it kids! Run for the hills!” 😉


  4. Tim Mueller Says:

    Will there be a catastrophe? Will it happen soon? I think we know the answers to these questions. For me, the more compelling question is, “Who is going to care for these deluded folks, these victims of their own folly?” Food, clothing, and shelter will be scarce, no doubt, but compassion shouldn’t be.

    • markbittner Says:

      We don’t know who will do these things—not until the moment is upon us. Some of the meek will become heroes. When I was eighteen I applied for conscientious objector status. I believed in pacifism. But I think no pacifist knows whether they really are one until it becomes a life and death issue.

  5. Dc Says:

    Hi Mark,
    We’re basically of the same generation and I generally agree with most of your points/writings/view, etc., but not this time.
    Three points:
    1) I don’t multitask and I’ve occasionally come close to being run over by a bicyclist. I feel that bicyclist don’t realize that they are silent and, relative to a car, small. When one is in a hurry, it is easy to not realize a bicyclist is heading towards one. I also feel that bicyclist sometimes too, are in a hurry and operate in a manor that doesn’t consider or fails to anticipate that they might not be seen.
    2) I am a bit of a technophile and feel that technology is a mixed bag. I am very concerned about drones, government spying, etc, but I also love the internet, computers, going into space, and lots more. You, I and your other readers wouldn’t be having this conversation without technology. Technology is change. Change can be scarey.
    3) I think that the concern you are touching on (and I’m concerned too) isn’t technology but hyper-individualism. I have a friend that says the US has become a nation of sociopaths and idiots. Many, if not most, people are self-absorbed and feel entitled. “Look out for number one by any means necessary.” “I want my rights and screw anybody else’s.” “I don’t use that bridge. Why should I pay for it.” Technology just makes all of this bigger and faster.

  6. markbittner Says:

    Generally speaking, I have a problem with bicyclists myself. She was probably looking peripherally for cars, but her attention was on her phone, which was about six inches in front of her face, while running. Not jogging, but running. In full runner’s regalia.

    I got into computers primarily because I was worried about getting left behind. I use them a lot. But as time goes by, I dislike them more and more. I think there have been periods when communication was stronger than it is now. I often feel that the more gear there is, the less communication there is. Communication is not dependent on equipment. I’m here because that’s where the campfire is currently. But after I finish my book and have done all the stuff you have to do nowadays to get it out to the public, I’m seriously considering getting rid of it all. I don’t like what staring at a monitor does to my mind. I think it makes us shallow. It leads to a materialistic vision, which creates the hyper individualism you speak of. When one has shallow vision, spiritual ideas sound utterly silly.

    But my main point is, how can we avoid disaster when we’re constantly making enormous changes without having any idea what their ultimate effects will be? It seems inevitable—like eating lead.

    • joe Says:

      Being (i’ve been told) non-materialistic myself,& being a Heavy Usage Recycler (clothes,all manner of construction material,furniture,food,electronics,tools,books,art,kitchen stuff,fridge,stove,etc,& being interested in being as Independent of our individualistic/material/slave to the flavor of the week/indentured to someone Else’s power structure) i have found that for people like us,even off-grid,a simple laptop replaces:cd player/typewriter/phone/library/radio/tv/dvd player/reader burner/camera/musical instruments/editing/production equipment;
      holy smokes that laptop just replaced a Lot of material that used to take up a Lot of time/space/energy in my life! I can still go out & find used/second hand/rescue all that the old fashioned way; & speak with others,but to say it’s reduced my dependance/carbon footprint is an understatement!!! Plus,without the net,i would never have found you,Or: thingsifindinthegarbage.com (wordpress) or:how to build your own wood stove or live off grid or build a 300$ forever solar heater or one of these days publish my own poetry,this laptop’s brought like-minded people to my Front door,plus the library of alexandria! if i take care of it it might still be good for the next 5-8yrs.

      3 things i can do with a hammer:

      buy it ’cause it’s pretty & hang it in my garage & boast & claim it makes me hot stuff or

      buy a good one & use it & then other tools for other uses or

      get/find/buy/rescue a multiple-use “swiss-army” hammer & use it for a Lot of things (constantly until i burn it out) ( & then recycle/downcycle/upcycle what’s left) 😉

      how can a swiss army hammer be a bad thing? is that not entirely up to individual? I’m anything but a technophile (too many useless bells & whistles (just using that expression’s ironic! ;)) but i might suggest that a buddhist might ask: is a laptop more damaging to one’s spirituality than a hammer?

      “if science demonstrates that buddhism is wrong,—then buddhism must change.” —the Dali lama.

      Looking forward to the book,sign me up for the 1300pg unedited “live + extras” version to boot should you ever decide to add that as a possibility,joe 😉

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