This not-so-new song, “Human” by the Killers which is loved by so many has anthem written all over it. Even if you have no idea what the words mean it sounds like some type of provocative nose thumbing at some type of establishment, somewhere. The line “Are we human or are we dancer?” was inspired by Hunter S. Thompson a former Rolling Stone contributor, who wrote, “We’re raising a generation of dancers.”
Doubtful he was referring to the preponderance of young people with their glow sticks and MDMA at raves in the 90’s and the aftermath techno bleeding into the ’00’s. More pointedly, the question was meant to provoke a response around how quickly we are becoming totally indifferent to injustices and programmed to act a certain way.
Here is one of many examples: I defy anyone to observe people going to work in the morning and see if you can find an ounce of joy on faces. Where is the joy and humanity on their faces? The real question should not be, “Wonder if they’ve had their coffee this morning?” but “Are they doing this out of choice and if so why aren’t they happy about it.?” To the objective extraterrestrial not familiar with our ways we might look like a bunch of miserable robots going to slaughter or our favourite aunt’s funeral. In what capacity are we sublimating our humanity (our true desires, life purpose, and joy) to do what others expect of us? What about those times when there is a woman crying on a street, someone getting mugged, or falling down in our path and people just keep walking, heads down pretending not to have seen. We act as if we’re only spiralling in our own orbit and our own orbit has nothing to do with anyone else’s. But it does. Our denial of our humanity and denial of connection is going to be our eventual ruin.
How can there be no concern that humanity seems to be hibernating in a cave of indifference so much of the time? Are we consciously choosing to shut down all systems and go on auto-pilot or is it happening surreptitiously without our awareness? Anyone ever go under anesthesia before surgery? Not so fun; there is that moment right before going under where you feel the eyelids getting heavy and you naturally fight in vain to keep them open. The 9-5 grind, the save-slave-retire model have many on the robotic hamster wheel which is one type of anesthetic. But what about the ipods, the OCD reactive emailing and email checking, the blackberries, the Facebook and Twitter? No different than the anesthetic used before that knee surgery. Is there truly any humanity in our use of these tools? We’re behind these machines, right? We’re operating them; so are we using them or are they using us? Is there any humanity in hearing iPods blasting into our ears and cocooning ourselves from the world so there is no way we can hear the voice of that old woman a block away who is getting mugged? Do we mind giving up those opportunities for meaningful conversation with a stranger? Is there something humane in sitting children in front of TVs or computers so as not have to play with them after a long day at work or hire a babysitter? It’s difficult to quantify the repercussions on our humanity (although we have already seen many, if only we could start to make the connections) when we are all fast asleep most of the time. Below is a beautiful portrait revealing the effects of one very powerful anesthetic robbing us of humanity.
Yeah, this is totally normal. Rather, what we’ve accepted as normal. What happened to the times when kids would dance, play and create? If someone wants to cut off their connection to the outside world as an adult, that is entirely their decision. The fear is whether people are consciously deciding that for themselves or being anesthetized at every turn and sucked into a vortex of robotland. Are we human or are we dancers? I don’t know about you, but I will hold onto my humanity with everything I’ve got.