An author friend, Hope Ramsey, asked an interesting question last week on her blog post: What Happened to My Modern World. She wanted to know if the younger generation’s interest in dark, scary, post-apocalyptic fiction was a rebellion against us Baby Boomers who have over-consumed our way into climate change. Well … given my writer’s interest in the genre, I felt compelled to put some thought into it.
I have no pedigree in social sciences and prefer to leave psychology of human behavior to the experts (if there is such a thing). When I blew-off the dust from my college psychology book, the cracked spine opened to Abraham Maslow’s 1943 Theory of Human Motivation. It might have been a sign and I wondered if his Hierarchy of Needs could explain our fascination with a possible future gone awry.
Tallying up our current global condition, in addition to the hidden environmental chaos from a couple hundred years of industrial revolution, some would say we underestimated the social impact of an exploding population, and human conflicts that never seem to shut down. I have to balance this discussion with recognition that we would not be at this technological checkpoint if we didn’t have a bit of that industrial revolution that many blame for our ills. However, add the many billions jockeying for space on the planet, most really poor, too many in fear for their lives, diverse and prejudicial moral compass headings spinning erratically; the global village often seems like a global ghetto with entire nations in social and economic bankruptcy. In short, we seem to be stuck in the lower levels of Maslow’s triangle.
Let’s tour the floors. Would it be stretching the truth to believe half of the world’s population struggles to get enough sustenance, clean water and sanitation? Safety? It’s better than the dark ages, maybe even better than a couple-hundred years ago, but then I’m blessed to live in a pretty good country. I can think of many places where security and morality is still … “cough cough”… a challenge. Belonging? Strange as it may sound, I think sense of family and friendship as a species is probably one of our best human attributes, even though the subject of adequate intimacy is bound to draw a plethora of jokes and good fodder for the romance industry. Achieving esteem is something self-help gurus make pots of money from and our global advances could be said a direct outcome of the few who have it. Key word … few. Not enough self-esteem to go around. Too many folks mired in the safety and physiological swamp.
Our younger generation is more attuned to the world stage than any generation before it. It comes from a closer awareness of global events and the chaos that comes with it. Are they jaded because of our wastrel lifestyle leading to climate change? Humans aren’t robots. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
If ole Maslow has any credence on the subject, when we finally do get to a place where at least everyone has something to eat, protection from the elements, relatively safe from thy neighbor, a little more love and R.E.S.P.E.C.T., then a dark, scary, post-apocalyptic world will likely remain nothing more than a good ghost story. With that thought, one could argue that if we don’t get off the lower floors of Maslow’s apartment, a future dystopian wasteland might not be such an outlandish possibility.
What about you? Think there’s a connection, or is Maslow just another pseudo-sage who philosophizes with triangular posters?