Over on the Commentary website, Nick Eberstadt has a brilliant and disturbing piece called “Our Miserable 21st Century.” Among its many haunting points is the following concerning the unemployed and opioid-addicted men of “fly-over” America:
We already knew from other sources … that the overwhelming majority of the prime-age men in this un-working army generally don’t “do civil society” (charitable work, religious activities, volunteering), or for that matter much in the way of child care or help for others in the home either, despite the abundance of time on their hands. Their routine, instead, typically centers on watching — watching TV, DVDs, Internet, hand-held devices, etc. — and indeed watching for an average of 2,000 hours a year, as if it were a full-time job. But Krueger’s study adds a poignant and immensely sad detail to this portrait of daily life in 21st-century America: In our mind’s eye we can now picture many millions of un-working men in the prime of life, out of work and not looking for jobs, sitting in front of screens — stoned.
And yet, are these men not on the transhumanist cutting edge? Freed from the tyranny of their bodily ills by drugs, they occupy long stretches of the day with (admittedly crude) virtual realities that allow them to escape the tyranny of circumstances beyond their control. Imagine how much happier they will be when able to immerse themselves in the more sophisticated virtual worlds that are just around the corner! Imagine how much better off they will be when our current medications are replaced with what will doubtless be far superior, safe, effective, and naturally non-addictive tools of pain relief and mood control.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.