The New Civilization

What is civilization?  A Facebook friend raised that point this morning, and he was bemoaning the fact that we tend to rate great civilizations by their great cities, and we tend to rate those great cities by their size, and the magnificence of their architecture, from Rome to London, rather than by the customs of their people, their cuisine, their music and other aspects of their culture.
Is a civilization synonymous with a culture?  Is an empire synonymous with a civilization?  Very interesting questions all around, especially at this juncture in our history.  There is little doubt that humanity is changing, evolving into something else.  We are becoming a one world culture – perhaps not fast enough for some, certainly too fast for some others.  My friend’s basic position is usually that primitive, tribal cultures are being subsumed by the great evil of Western civilization.
The way I see it, we are leaving the anthropocene and entering the age of the internet, and the culture of our future, the ethic of whatever civilization we are going to build, will come about not through rational debate, not through logical argument and deliberate choices, but through succeeding waves of consensus.
Before social media, I never realized how many people in the world loved cats, nor how deeply.  But people also love sharing memes of small children doing funny things, of exceptional singers and dancers, detailed close-ups of sculptured gardens and broad panoramic views of natural vistas.  They also post pictures of their food, which is a precursor of something we don’t have the technology for yet.  A photograph does not convey smell, or taste.  Some day we will have that technology.
We are heading into an era where we will be able to look inside each other’s minds, and the aspects that everybody likes will become part of our culture, and our civilization.  It is a bit scary, but it will be awesome.

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