and our perception of society // vol. 6
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — George Santayana
I recently began reading Thoreau’s Walden, and within the first few pages of the book, it was striking how many of his ideas were still reflective of human nature today.
His thoughts on people living to work, fearing judgement, and grasping at status are all still entirely true for how people live, just within a different backdrop. Although I originally assumed these were modern ailments, I realize now that these are facets of human nature (or perhaps a capitalist nature) that are buried much deeper. Traits like these, though, are rarely put into historical context. It’s easy to read about how social media creates status games, it’s harder to read about how the construct of social status has shifted through the ages.
It got me thinking about how humans often have a very limited view on the age of the sorts of issues they face. History repeats itself consistently, but it’s difficult to notice it happening in front of our own eyes, despite all the documentation we now have at the touch of our fingertips. Many aspects of society are cyclical, and these cycles have been well documented in the past (such as the economic cycle of growth and depressions, or the political cycles of populism and reform).
So, how do we continue to systematically ignore what we already know, time and time again, keeping us stuck in these hamster wheels? My hypothesis is that this is a result of human biology: humans did not need knowledge of the distant past to live, given that information storage is a relatively modern behavior. I wasn’t able to find any research on this from a psychological perspective (couldn’t quite figure out the right search terms), but I’m curious to further explore how our nearsightedness in time may affect how we approach large-scale problem solving. In the meantime, enjoy some (sort-of) related updates and digital treats!
Posted a short 150-word take on sustainable capitalism. I’m super optimistic that sustainable capitalism can be the solution to help us focus on long-term over short-term benefit. A lot of my ideas around this have been shaped by the works of Muhammad Yunus, who emphasizes capitalism infused with human values.
Made a few small updates to my blog site! I lost the screenshot I thought I took of the previous design, but it looks much cleaner now as I add new articles to the list 🎉
I’m still working through “Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood, but I thought her writing style is very unique. The way she jumps between timelines to share the full narrative makes the story even more gripping.
💫 Digital serendipity
Curiosity provoking content from the last few weeks (time-themed!):
30-minute video on the Illusions of Time by Vsauce. It’s on the longer end, but a very engaging look into all the tricks our brain plays on us around the passage of time.
Service to write a letter to your future self: FutureMe. I remember writing physical letters to myself in school where the teachers promised to send them back to us in a few years (I’ve yet to receive any back). This is an easy-to-use digital version of that, and it’s free! Love the simplicity of the platform and the impact it could have on personal reflection.
Linus Lee (@thesephist)’s 3-minute article on How we measure time. I liked how he broke down the ways we perceive time, and how our storytelling style is a reflection of that.
That’s all for this week! If you got this far, thanks for joining. As always, I’d love to hear what you think :)