Progress II

What Louis CK says in this video is right in a lot of ways. I, of course, want to talk about the ways in which he's wrong. But I don't have those thoughts quite worked out yet, so in the meantime you can watch the video and if you're interested in more about it, read the post and comments (all of which agree with the videos sentiment) here, I'll update this post when I'm good and ready. You should not, of course, read the comments at YouTube under any circumstances.

Update: I'm still not sure what I want to say. It's true that technology has made many, many aspects of our lives more convenient and allowed us to do things that previous generations couldn't have. In particular, he's right that communications and transportation technologies have massively improved, and he's not even mentioning the fundamental (though longer term) changes that have occurred as smaller and smaller percentages of human labor have had to be devoted to food production and acquisition, and the more recent change in which large amounts of knowledge have become instantly accessible via the internet.

The first thing to note about this is that it has made impractical valuable forms of social interaction which made many people happy but also depended on their being largely rooted in one physical location without the easy ability to exit. These social organizations also had costs (there's a reason exit is desired), but that's no reason to dismiss their value. The social arrangements I have in mind right now in particular are those described by the Pres. Elect Obama about Kenya before it was a British colony in Dreams From My Father, but those are just fresh in my mind, similar arrangements existed everywhere at different times.

Another thing to mention is that human expectations are very adaptable, we get used to things both good and bad. So once instant communication becomes possible, expectations change so that others will expect you to communicate with them instantly, whether you want to, and pointing out that people used to use rotary phones isn't going to be very persuasive to them, and for good reasons.

Finally, flying being awesome isn't a reason for airlines to make offers to people and the fail to fulfill them.