A lot of fiction borders on reality and are simply raised a few notches higher for entertainment purposes. However, even those that seem completely fictitious don’t take too long before they become the new reality.
Few stories put this in perspective. One is from the Dan Brown book Inferno, and the other from The Circle, staring Emma Watson. What these two stories have in common asides being good stories (some say otherwise), is the method both stories adopted to fixing world problems. A method that was also used in Avengers: Infinity War to solve the same problem in Inferno. It is the Thanos Principle.
Inferno, as any Dan Brown book, uses facts and figures as its foundation. So, when Dan Brown said the world’s exponential population growth threatens its very existence, I took him seriously. Research shows that while it isn’t growing exponentially in mathematical terms (hasn’t grown exponentially in over half a century), it is growing at a rapid rate. Global human population growth is said to be around 75 million annually which is a hell of a lot.
As with any form of uncontrollable growth, there is fear that it would grow out of hand, leading to food shortages, congestion, and a myriad of ills. The only thing that was actively done to curb it was when China’s adopted its “one-child” policy in the late 1970s. In the book however, our villain felt a much effective option for solving the world’s population problem was to release a fertility plague that sterilizes part of the population. In Avengers, Thanos simply took the higher road and wiped half the population (if this is a spoiler for you, then you deserve it.) Fix the problem by making sure half of the population cannot produce children or half of the world disappears. Would that work? You bet.
In ‘The Circle’, we have a similar approach. The movie stretched the powers of the digital age to new dimensions. Much like the internet/google of our time, our main character works for an organization that has access to all information – financial, health, etc., of every single individual. And if you so please, you can allow the entire world, watch your every move, listen to all your conversations, and see everything about you from their phones. Kind of a combination of reality TV and social media.
Here’s where I’m getting to. This company eventually creates an App called SoulSearch, a program that can find any person on the planet within 10 minutes whether they want to be found or not. The rationale for this was that it helps find killers, kidnappers, and the likes of them with ease. It makes it easier to ensure the safety of everybody on earth, by breaching the one thing that makes us individuals in the first place – our privacy. Again, these are stories that could pass for new age myths. However, reality is just minutes away from where these stories are.
Killing half of the world would certainly curb the population crisis, but is that the right way to go? And, yes, being able to find a person whenever we desire would almost completely solve world security issues, but is that the best way to go? The problem isn’t by looking at the world’s problems and not seeing solutions. The problem is looking at the problems and making them worse in other dimensions by virtue of the irrationality of the solutions proffered. It isn’t that they don’t solve the problems, it is that they are just not right.
A friend of mine recently started a car pool service company known as ZENO Nigeria. His idea was that rather than keep enduring the pains of traffic and other transportation challenges in Lagos, let’s reduce the people on the road by providing a more convenient means of transportation for them. Kind of like Uber, but cheaper from splitting cab and bus fares. End goal? Reduce the amount of people that drive to work, ultimately reducing traffic, offer convenience, and make a few people richer in the process. That’s the usual ‘glass half-full way’ of problem solving I’m used to.
However, much like the stories, time has proven that radical problem-solving skills – like wars or killing the corrupt top leaders of a political system, are not just much faster ways of solving problems, but finite. Really, isn’t it more effective to send half of Lagos packing instead of creating a different means of transport? The question of whether they are the best methods, lies largely on perception and how badly we want these problems to go away.
I, however, believe that if you are #TeamThanos, then you too are part of society’s problems.