Essay: "...with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark..."

In the next five to ten years, we will see a major cultural shift against some of the dominant features of current daily life. 

Two generations ago, our grandparents - the people who lived through the Great Depression and World War II - lived through a vast accumulation of wealth and the newly-enjoyed position of the United States as the pre-eminent world power. The businesses that emerged during that era - modern advertising, an enormous defense industry, and pumped-up entertainment businesses (among others) - helped professionalize America and simplified the so-called American Dream: two kids, a house in the suburbs, a couple of cars, a television set, and a barbeque.

In response, we had the political and social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.
Assassinations, multiple armed radical factions, free love, paranoia, anger, and distrust ultimately self-destructed due to overindulgence and a lack of purpose. 

Also, a new wave of prosperity encouraged the population to simmer down. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, former hippies traded ponchos for the cashmere of Yuppieville and jobs in the high tech industry, where they became nouveau riches with mansions, European sportscars, and bad taste.

The Yuppies of the 1980s, in turn, presided over a vast accumulation of wealth in the 1990s - and don't let anyone fool you into thinking that the tech or dot-com bubble and its subsequent burst is unrelated to the recent worldwide real estate crash and the ongoing Great Recession.

The dominant lifestyle of the present is one that relies enormously upon the technology and associated gadgets produced by the very industry and culture responsible for the interrelated crises of our time. The 1990s spawned enormous leaps in computer technology and the Internet. Now, we are all online all the time, via desktop or laptop, smartphone or

What people are starting to wake up to is that nothing actually happens on the Internet. We do not have experiences there, despite the fact that we communicate there in fits and starts, and occasionally use the Web trade information. The only thing the Internet is actually good for is shopping. And I'm not saying it's been entirely co-opted by big business - small sellers can still do well online. But that is the single substantive activity that takes place online. Nothing else can be accomplished there, even by the few surviving people who believe in the Internet as a tool of social and cultural revolution. That time has passed. The Internet is primarily a marketplace, and the enormous energy and enthusiasm of the 1990s - the ideals and promise of that era - gave way to the same greed that is now the primary raison d'etre of the entire enterprise.

There will be a reckoning. People around my own age - people who are old enough to remember pre-Internet life - will finally get it together and there will come a time when we understand that the Internet is poor for one's mental health; that eyesight and mood are negatively affected by long hours in front of a monitor; that the dozens of hours a week that we spend on the Internet is simply and purely wasted time - wasted lives.

These concerns will characterize the next countercultural movement, and it's just over the horizon. Let's hope its high-water mark doesn't fade so readily.

For a little more context regarding the article's title and illustration, please go here for information on the source, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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