Our feudal present

In late August, a black-sailed ship appeared in the harbor carrying a 16-year-old visionary, a girl who had sailed from the far north across a great sea. A mass of city-dwellers and travelers, enthralled by her prophecies, gathered to welcome her. She had come to speak to the nations of Earth, to castigate us for our vanities and warn us of coming catastrophe. “There were four generations there cheering and chanting that they loved her,” the writer Dean Kissick observed. “When she came ashore, it felt messianic.”

Thus begins “In 2029, the Internet Will Make Us Act Like Medieval Peasants”, a lovely essay by Max Read on what tech is doing to us.

“Looking around lately”, he writes,

I am reminded less often of Gibson’s cyberpunk future than of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical past, less of technology and cybernetics than of magic and apocalypse. The internet doesn’t seem to be turning us into sophisticated cyborgs so much as crude medieval peasants entranced by an ever-present realm of spirits and captive to distant autocratic landlords. What if we aren’t being accelerated into a cyberpunk future so much as thrown into some fantastical premodern past?

Wonderful stuff. Worth reading in full.