An Urgent Plea for Help

Posted on June 2, 2008
Filed Under Commercial Interruptions |

Recently, Robert Scoble lamented the Friend Divide which keeps hundreds of millions of Internet users from getting the most out of the social media experience. He has good reason to worry about the poor souls who simply don’t have enough friends to enjoy services like Twitter.

But Scoble overlooks an even more disturbing fact: there are indigenous groups around the world that have had little to no contact with modern civilization and its technology.

The Mail Online has published an article about one such group that makes its home deep in the rainforest along the border of Brazil and Peru. The photos taken during a helicopter fly-by of the tribe’s village are amazing.

As I read this article, it occurred to me that not only do these poor people have no access to technology and the Internet - they don’t even know what computers and the Internet are!

The nearest store selling computers would require a mythical journey to reach and even if an Apple Store was conviently nearby (say within a few days’ hike), their region has not yet been blanketed with free Wi-Fi.

Let us make no mistake about it: this is an absolute tragedy in a day and age where early adopters (read: modern civilization) have managed to liberate nearly all the late adopters (read: native peoples) from the shackles of a simple, self-sustaining lifestyle.

Unless we do something to help these people, they will never have the opportunity to post their thoughts and experiences to the Internet along with every other connected human being.

They’ll never set up profiles on Facebook and have the ability to poke cutes villager who live in the huts across the way. They’ll never be able to publish blogs about the trials and tribulations of hunting. They’ll never upload videos of spear-throwing contest bloopers to YouTube. They won’t be able to tweet village gossip using Twitter. They won’t be able to access the upcoming Google Maps Rainforest Edition through an iPhone. And access to all of human knowledge via Wikipedia will elude them.

This is unacceptable to me and I hope it is to you too.

I urge my readers and the Web 2.0 community at large to join me in doing something about this travesty.

I am starting an organization called No Tribe Left Behind and am planning an expedition into the heart of the Amazon to deliver technology aid to these needy natives. I am seeking monetary donations that will fund the purchase of computers, laptops, iPods, iPhones and other cool gadgets that will deliver them from the depravities of their pre-technology existence.

It’s time for the Web 2.0 community to put its money where its mouth is. The splendor of technology should be shared freely and equally (kind of like recorded music and Hollywood movies).

Although I have not yet formed a non-profit to accept donations, that should not matter.

Please send checks to:

No Tribe Left Behind
c/o DTO Industrial Holdings SA
Avenida Balboa-Multicentro
29th Floor
Panama City, Panama 0833-0293

Thank you. I look forward to making the world a better place with your help.

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6 Responses to “An Urgent Plea for Help”

  1. Mike Rundle on June 2nd, 2008 9:24 pm

    Will they accept a COD?

  2. Morgan on June 2nd, 2008 9:54 pm

    The ‘Friend Divide’ and the ‘Digital Divide’ are pretty ridiculous ideas. There are plenty of real issues like starvation and slavery to worry about.

    That being said, I don’t think ’simple, self-sustaining’ really captures how these kinds of tribes live for their shortened lifespans. They aren’t museum pieces, they’re people, and I think that merits them the opportunity whether they’d like to continue working every day just to survive, or to live what I and most objective people would agree is a superior lifestyle.

    I don’t see a huge flux of people moving into the forests to enjoy that simple lifestyle, but I could be wrong.

  3. Drama 2.0 on June 2nd, 2008 10:32 pm

    Mike: I will. I’ll have somebody waiting for you at Tocumen International Airport. Just send me your flight number.

    Morgan: people may not be flocking to the forests, but an increasing number are choosing to live off-the-grid.

    While I don’t necessarily advocate that people migrate en masse to Montana (I don’t need any neighbors), there’s something to be said for self-dependence and being able to survive when you can’t rely on the conveniences of modern civilization.

    So many like to extoll the technological abilities of Gen Yers, for instance. But what happens when the lights go out? How many Gen Yers are capable of fixing a car or growing their own food?

    The bottom line is that our consumer culture lifestyle has spiralled out of control. It isn’t healthy and it’s getting less sustainable by the day. When - not if - it collapses, the “backwards” people who can fend for themselves are going to fare a lot better.

    Finally, I’d point out that the tribe in Brazil owns those huts outright. It doesn’t have to worry about foreclosures.

  4. Sam B on June 3rd, 2008 7:08 am

    Drama: A number of tribespeople can’t grow their own food either, being hunter-gatherers (though this particular tribe apparently keeps gardens), and they certainly can’t fix cars. If I, a useless Generation Yer, swapped places with a tribesman, I think it would be easier for me to pick up hunter-gathering than it would be for him to learn to use a computer, drive a car, do differential calculus and learn all the other skills that our corrupt culture has given me.

    Let’s not get too misty-eyed about the Stone Age. These people live shorter lives, have worse diets, less access to medicine, are less able to cope with disabilities, are more vulnerable to environmental variations (not all of which are man-made), I could go on. Modern life has its problems, but there are very good reasons we put up with them.

  5. Drama 2.0 on June 3rd, 2008 10:04 am

    Sam: I think you miss the point completely, which is that there is a lot of value in self-dependence - whether you live in an agrarian society or hunter-gatherer society, the rainforest or an off-the-grid log cabin in Montana.

    When it comes down to it, there are few things more valuable than being able to meet all of your basic needs without being wholly reliant on others. Get it?

    I’m glad you know how to use a computer, drive a car and I’m sure your parents are extremely proud that you can do differential calculus. None of these things are essential to your “survival” and I think if you tried to “pick up” hunter-gathering, you’d be in for a rude awakening.

    Please consider the reality for an increasing number of people. What good is a longer lifespan when you live paycheck to paycheck as an indentured servant in a corporate welfare state and have to work well past your expected retirement age because you can’t afford to live otherwise? What good is your access to good food and medicine when you can’t afford it?

    We put up with modern life because we have no other choice. We’ve traded self-reliance for convenience and unfortunately, the world this has created isn’t sustainable.

    If I seem misty-eyeed about the Stone Age, you seem misty-eyed about your computer (which won’t run if you don’t pay your electricity bill), your car (which I know you can’t fix) and your differential calculus (which won’t put food on your dinner table).

    I’m certainly not nostalgic for the Paleolithic period, but I’m also not going to delude myself into thinking that a society with an unsustainable consumer lifestyle filled with superfluous conveniences and people who couldn’t survive a winter in the mountains is a vast improvement.

  6. Stan Miller on June 3rd, 2008 7:59 pm

    Those primitive creatures still live in the “man vs. nature” world. While we now survive through “man vs. nurture”. There are no less lions and tigers and bears.

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