Dunbar’s number

It’s all about the advancement of the species, b, and always was.

This is shaping into an amazing if brutal and distressing spring. At least if you’re capable of wanting anything for anything greater than yourself. If you’d have asked me if a bunch of people were going to change the world with flowers and hugging back in January, I’d have called bullshit, but here we are.

And there are still enough people climbing over Dunbar’s number not to fuck it up too much. I’ve been obsessing over this idea for a while — it’s the idea that in effect, one’s memory is such that you can keep tabs on around 150 people before you start separating them into in-group/out-group.

Seriously, does it matter to anyone what happens in Oman? Let’s talk about the price per barrel of oil. What’s going on with the supply of food right now? What’s that cost? Any luck finding a job?

For a lot of people, attempting to consider any issue on a global level goes flying straight through the Overton window — you wind up being lumped in with the psychics and tin-foil hat brigade. But it remains that the real-world impact of the Arab Spring is a collision between trillions of dollars and finite natural resources — we’re already on the wrong side of peak everything else, here comes the actual Collapse.

In essence, globalization is re-balancing the economy. Equilibrium isn’t about being able to pay cash for an iPhone or completing an MFA; when your frame of reference is limited to a couple hundred individuals, it will seem that way, so you have to hold that number up to the 6.5 nigh 9 billion or so that will be on the scene in coming years.

Things will get better for everyone, but this doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, nor is it going to sit with a lot of people’s expectations.

None the less, things have changed more in the last two months, perhaps, than at any point in my life. It’s impossible NOT to be happy about it.

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