Brexit: the Cultural Climate Warms Up

Daniel Fraga
June 24th 2016

On the aftermath of such a historic day for Britain and the EU, it's easy to get swayed into the polarities of political discourse, particularly on social media and the Internet, where things heat up and move fast. The results of the referendum have just come out, and the Internet is already burning with tension. This, dear readers, is called "climate change" - just not the one you are used to hear about.

It's truly a brave new world we live in nowadays. And one of the most glaring effects of this is how quickly and easily opinions get polarized, Brexit is just the most recent example of this next natural phenomena. As if the climate warming up was not bad enough (as some of us tend to believe), the climate of political and social discussion is also heating up. "Climate change" is not only happening on the level of nature, but also on the level of culture.

Below are two patterns that emerge from this social and cultural next nature:

  1. The Internet enormously sped up the exchange of information. Social media allowed any and everyone with a keyboard and a basic knowledge of the alphabet to express their opinions. Freedom of speech tends to allow people to say whatever they want - particularly in the West. What results from this is that the left and the right exchange the quintessential insults; we are used to see them hurl at each other, except now many more people seem to engage in it. It's like before, but more amplified. What's more, people seem to believe the insults more and more. As low-level, mindless and stereotypical discussions abound more and more, things become tense faster. This has a direct and undeniable impact on the cultural and political directions of society. The Internet is making debate and opinions more volatile, on every side of the barricade. With every terrorist attack, with every Brexit or with any other high-tension event, the Internet is set ablaze with the emotions of billions of interconnected minds. To sum it up, the cultural climate of the next nature is more stormy, hotter and more volatile.
  2. On the other side of this coin, the fact is that in this new cultural climate, borders are a blurry concept. Not only between countries, but between people and information of all kinds. For the millenial generation, information and connectivity will be an essential right, just like water or shelter. We not only live in cities of concrete and steel, but also in cities made of data, information and images. In short, connectivity is an essential condition of the 21st century; this is one of the greatest engines of progress that mankind has ever seen. And this is a good thing. That our cultural climate becomes more volatile and that ideological bar brawls flood our perceptional scope is just a small sacrifice we have to make for having access to the greatest machine ever created - billions of interconnected human minds. That Brexit has triggered a flood of opinions, of politically charged information-pieces and of moralizing reprehensions is a consequence of our brave new world. In short, the point here is that we are at the forefront of history, of evolution and life, in the sense that those of us who are alive now have access to knowledge and tools that can change evolution.

Just like any individual person's mind, the hivemind is full of conflict and dissent. It is unbalanced. From threats of terrorism, Brexits, stories of mass migration and of humanitarian crisis, and to people saying outrageous stuff and others getting riled up about it - the cultural climate of our day and age is undoubtedly volatile.

But this conflict is a necessary consequence of having acquired the power and the technology that we now have, as a species. The way we communicate with ourselves is changing dramatically. As you navigate the volatile echo chamber that is the Internet - as you read opinions you agree with, opinions you don't agree with and everything in between - remember that we live in exciting and new times, and that in the cultural climate of our next nature, everything you thought you knew about how society and culture work is just obsolete. Technology has scrapped that playbook. Things have changed. They don't work the same way anymore. Time to look at it with fresh eyes, because we need yo move forward - not get stuck in cultural bar brawls and outdated ways of reacting to events.

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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