What is The Paradox of Progress?
Progress promised more leisure and less anxiety but instead, we got the opposite results! Why?
Progress is meant for bettering our lives, with better facilities and lesser work. Scientific advancements are here to aid us living a smoother and easier life. But does that ever happen? Each one of us has different needs, goals, aspirations, and desires, therefore we all want to reach our potential and lead the lives we envision. We believe we have opportunities to realize such dreams. But in reality our whole life is spent on hustling and bustling, but achieving zero peace of mind. Anxiety has become our best friends. Why? Despite our best efforts, there are challenges that stand in the way of our goals. We feel we must put out the effort necessary to achieve our goals. We all know that and do that, yet fail to achieve that mecca of success. Progress should be easy; it shouldn’t make our lives more difficult.
Being overly ambitious might leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed, concerned about how we’ll manage to get everything done. Inadequate ambition may leave us feeling uninspired, uncomfortable, and even sad because we worry that our dreams may not be large enough.
This combined with a culture that associates labor with social status and self-worth has made us into some sort of machines with anxieties.
For example, Farming. Despite the assurance that leisure would be improved and worry would be reduced, the present day agriculture, instead, increased work demands and raised anxiety levels.
Here’s how Eisenstein explained this paradoxical phenomenon— he said, contrary to the initial hope of progress, agriculture increased nature’s food production for people while also introducing the modern idea of labor. Food was both easier to obtain and simultaneously more plentiful. With agriculture, we had to labor today in order to have food tomorrow, which is a prime illustration of the contradiction of technology, which has taken us to the verge of disaster despite its enticing objectives of convenience, comfort, and security. Adding to that he also shared, that this system became a source of continual sense of anxiety, existence itself has been made into an unavoidable pain, no matter how well this year’s crop turns out, the worry lingers on, what about next year?
This is the technological paradigm expressing the illusion of control that people have. The idea that having greater control over our surroundings will make us feel less anxious is ironically counterproductive; the more I can control and forecast, the less I can tolerate uncertainty, and the more I want to control and predict. A positive feedback loop that is maintained by the control mechanism is anxiety. More control is not the solution to the problem, but that is the illusion that is put before us. And that enchantment still hangs over us now. How far will we fall in this downward spiral? Just a touch of extra power!