Why the Solutions to Save Our Nervous Planet Fail

Ironically, we may need a bigger problem


Photo courtesy of author

It’s 8:30 a.m. already, and I’m stuck in traffic. Again. My class starts in 15 minutes. I just called my colleagues to inform them that I am running late.

I can see unhappy, irritated, and impatient faces in the cars around me. It seems nobody is enjoying today’s sunny Monday morning.

When did things become so messed up? Was it always like this, and I was just too busy to notice? Or have things taken an unexpected turn for the worse?

I take a mental note to myself. Leave earlier next week. Even though it means I must set off two hours before the start of my lecture. But I don’t want to blame traffic again. I remember that it would only take twenty-five minutes ten years ago.

Radio Heads

Life has simply become much more complicated over the last few years.

We are always in a hurry, chasing time that is taken away from us by other people and situations beyond our control. And that feeling — of an unfree life lived at the margins of our control — is no place for living.

To kill the time, I turn on the radio. Talk radio. Hardly conducive to calming my mood. Talking heads. Culture wars. Tribal identity politics.

The public mood is one of mistrust, hostility, and frustration. We have lost the ability to communicate and agree on even the simplest facts.

It feels like we are on a road to nowhere. We know where we have been and what we have achieved. We have made massive progress over the last five hundred years. Even the progress we have made over the previous twenty-five years is mind-blowing.

But we have no idea where we are heading or how to get there. All that matters is surviving the next moment. Getting the next hit, solving the latest problem.

Short-term success is the most important thing that is happening today. The number of likes on a social media post. A company’s quarterly results. A promotion. The constant pressure to beat the competition today.

The result? Toxic productivity. The fear of missing out. The constant pressure to perform. The idea is that we…



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.