Among the many challenges that confront our society these days is the ever-changing meaning of words – words we’ve been using generation after generation – words we all understand. I’m not talking about the ancient, or even distant past. Just 5-10 years ago we shared a common language.
Front and center of the remaking of language is the term “privilege.”
We used to all know what that meant: money and/or education or other gifts that bestow a head start in life – a special advantage. There is an associated term from the French, “noblesse oblige,” which means: if you were born, or otherwise blessed with privilege, you are obligated to share your advantages, and material wealth, with others who are less privileged (sometimes known as underprivileged).
I think we are all obligated to share our privileges, however small or large they are. That’s what we call community here at Crows’ Feat Farm. That is our daily work.
One of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley, Marc Andreeson, has reported on a new meaning of the word. Apparently there’s now a thing called “reality privilege.” You can hear what he says about that here. It is true that the internet has opened worlds of information and understanding that were not previously available to “ordinary people.” Being one of those ordinary people, I reject the premise: that a rewarding life of the mind and body is available only to a select few. And the implication that those few are in charge of how information is gathered and shared and defined as “reality” in the metaverse.
If reality is a privilege, we have a lot of work to do as a society. I believe it is our obligation to work together to create a better reality – not an alternative concept of reality, one that is destined to make people lose their minds. What Marc Andreeson has described – as a way for people to raise their intellect and understanding via the internet – is a dead-end road. UNLESS that understanding is meaningful and actionable in the real world. Otherwise, it’s just a fancier version of solitary confinement.
Reality is usually difficult, often awful, and sometimes horrible. The sooner we acknowledge that, and commit ourselves to doing at least something – if not everything we possibly can – to support our fellow travelers, the closer we get to establishing a better shared reality.
Reality is not a privilege. It is an obligation – one that we all share – to build a better world.
So let’s go to work, shall we?