A strange trend I’ve noticed in the past few years is the following: no one will commit to anything until the very last minute. It’s like we have to ensure that nothing better will come up before we agree to something. What has caused this shift from where people used to commit to plans, to where we are now?
My initial thought was cell phones.
Nowadays, we can instantly and immediately change plans and make new ones by sending a quick text message. Back in the day, things had to be planned in advance and people had to agree upon meeting locations, plans, etc. Otherwise, no one would be able to find each other or get together at all.
But now, with a 3 second text message, we can completely flip plans and end up downtown for an art exhibition on platypuses (platypi? that makes me think of a plate of pie. MMM..plate of pie) rather than uptown for drinks.
However, I don’t think cell phones are to blame.
I think we’ve all consciously (or subconsciously) agreed that our society should be value-driven. We prioritize doing whatever will generate the most value and we think that everyone else should accept this as a necessary aspect of signing the social contract.
For example, if we had plans to meet up with a friend for a drink, this friend should totally understand if we cancel last minute or wait to commit to this drink until the last possible second. What if our favorite band announced a pop-up tour down the street at the same time as our get together? What if our boss decided to take us all out after work to celebrate the end of the week? You should understand that! It will bring us more value than meeting up with you!!!
This brings me to unrestricted capitalism, which seems to be the direction that a large chunk of the world thinks we should push towards. I see it like this:
- In a capitalistic system, having more capital (money) is good.
- Justifying obtaining more capital is, therefore, excusable in many situations.
- Capital is an end in a capitalistic society, not a means.
- In fact, capital is the most important end.
- People are not seen as ends, but as means to obtain more capital.
- Therefore, using means (people) to get more capital is perfectly acceptable.
These capitalistic values are so strongly reinforced in our society that it has pervaded our relationships with friends, family, and people in general. Few see an issue with someone getting stomped on and removed from a job so that someone else can get a promotion and obtain more capital. Phoning it in as a student and only studying to pass the test is the norm in schools, where almost no students see the value in education for the sake of education.
So something as trivial as cancelling plans with a friend last minute may not be be devastating to our society. But our dogmatic devotion to capitalism may be.