Imaginings, Illusions & Illustrations

So many words, so many ideas, so many opinions. Only one self.

“Unprecedented times” is a phrase I’ve heard or read far too much this year.

“New normal” is also another.

Along with “I just want things to go back to normal”

I’ve heard today a political spin merchant seriously use the phrase: “I think we may disagree on what facts are true”

Because I daydream, because I explore ideas, concepts and patterns, just sometimes I have what alcoholic’s call ‘moments of clarity’ and ancient man use to call ‘visions from |insert deity here|’

Yet I find it so easy to be distracted, to be filled, even overwhelmed with information. There are many things we are as a species. At our core I’d argue we are a slightly hairless monkey, with methods of transmitting knowledge and material wealth both on an inter-generational and intercontinental basis.

We, in my post-industrial landscape, mostly live in a world based on our imaginings and illusions. The illuminating illustrations of factual information is there.

I don’t see it as the driving force. Maybe nor should it be. Status, appearance and virtue signalling do seem to take priority to actions and results.

Bending reality to fit your desires – or retreating into an imaginary controllable, limited and safe delusions – is something afforded only to the insanely wealthy, children and mad people.

How much time are people spending on social media out bursts? I miss the days when the internet was mostly cats – and everyone knew the default option was to distrust everything on the internet. I’m careful, I prefer to offer some comedic slight or a slight insight on life. The angry rants are rare, because as an action they rarely create a positive, sustaining result.

Often, even inside groups and networks I’m in, it’s not a meeting of different individuals with different skills and needs coming together to create something which benefits the whole group – more than it limits the individual.

There are actions comments and reactions to online activity that just would not be tolerated in the real – face-to-face – world.

Could you imagine if someone walked up to someone they didn’t know in public and screamed “I DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU THINK, I’M OFFENDED YOU ARE INHUMAN AND NEED TO DIE!?!?!” a mild exaggeration for demonstrative purposes – but not a false analogy?

Online however it seems like there’s a need, a drive, or behaviour patterns which massively exaggerate positive or negatives – and remove nuance.

Why do we have social manners?

Because we know that we need to get along with our fellow earth ship dwellers…

I am disturbed by a wider trend – that of the social or ideological bubbles that are forming, and that an expression that does not fit the group is not just a disagreement – but treated as a threat, an attack or a absolutist destruction of any humanity or value in the ‘Offender’/’Outsider’

As Stephen Fry stated – “You’re offended? So fucking what?”

I’m trying real hard to remain constructive and build connections and consensus. But like all good habits, I definitely find it harder to maintain than the easy bad habits.

The extreme reach in me wonders if its a side effect of something else that’s going on in wider societal trends?

Looking at history, without being histrionic, societies & empires have collapsed due to inability to cope with natural disasters. But also when the division between the the groups of a society no longer have a bridgeable gap.

The internet, information and social media are all human inventions that we are not genetically – or even socially adapted to. All technological and ideological changes are destructive and disruptive, but if nothing ever changes then the whole system is doomed.

Will current trends be the disruptive wedge that creates the illusion of security of the self while the multitude of groups we all rely on slowly break apart?

It illustrates to me that as a collective group, our en masse behaviours, we’re still some hormonal teen who can’t self regulate and attacks or adores in equal measure with acceptance rarely seen?

Will we adapt fast enough to avoid a collapse? Has anyone noticed that the Globo-Corps like Google, Facebook or Amazon – who answer to no individual or government – are possible the only groups to come out of this worldwide pandemic circus stronger? And they aren’t even people. The people are only there to support the legal entity that is a corporation.

What happened to protecting the individual selves through co-operation? Isn’t that why we as monkeys have a collective?

Yesterday chasing waterfalls refocused & revitalised me – perspective is everything. If waterfalls can carve rocks, I’m still willing to hope our species will learn lessons before we hit an exam we can’t pass. Just my individual self will only be the smallest fraction of change.

I’m probably due another break from all this. I’ve spent most of the day listening to music and looking deep into how deeply the capitalist experiment to get China to follow a Anglo-European philosophy has failed..

Like with all changes, it’s a function of energy, time and context.

Skeuomorphism

“Skeuomorph” – is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original. Examples include pottery embellished with imitation rivets reminiscent of similar pots made of metal and a software calendar that imitates the appearance of binding on a paper desk calendar.

Since the last post I’ve been forcing myself to write down whats on my mind each morning. Some morning it’s hard. Some mornings it just doesn’t happen. Some mornings it really flows. Tonight I just watched a short you-tube video, that really is a neo-modern twist on the original Marxist arguments that used to fascinate me at 17.

Neo-modern, in the sense that to me is a tautological re-iteration of a thousand words when maybe one hundred would do.  I’m not a Marxist, I am verbose, and I appreciate the argument. I’m an anarchist, and a humanist, in some very narrow senses.  Look up the definitions.

I’m not 17 anymore… But I do remember the internet was slowing forming in the public consciousness when I was at college. I can still read HTML code in source form and know what it’s going to do.  I also remember that Tim Berners-Lee released it for the good of all people. A selfless, not for profit, humanist action.

It has achieved so much. And unlike the beginning, like when I first mined some worthless Bitcoins years ago, the wealthy interests have determined that money can be made for ‘teh interwebz’ – and that just like Animal Farm – some sites and ideas are more equal than others. Just try the same search on any other search engine than ‘G©°gLe’ and see what happens.  I think I began growing up in a world were material assets and information were critical. Knowledge & wisdom were something I though you had to work at, connect ideas and test them against the world.

This is not the case now. I’ve spent time in classrooms with groups of teenagers who think the the don’t need to know how to work out answers to questions, stood alongside people who wanted answers, and not questions. “I can just look it up on the web, sir”, “Just give us the answer…. meh”

Is the dissemination of information over the web, for free, a destruction of the value of culture? Or maybe even our very souls? The web feels like information, it looks similar to knowledge, and wisdom –  to the systems that came before? I mean this in the sense that a lot of things have the appearance of documentaries, or studied and considered approaches. But they aren’t. But we’re so conditioned to accept what seems familiar…

The printing press freed people, developed minds.The development of computing changed human knowledge and thought to one of how to think, and not exclusively about just the facts. The machines can filter down what we need. But do they filter down what we want?

Ironically, as the internet increasingly becomes like shouting in an echo chamber, we are dumbing down again – reverting to a new bastard child of our species’ long long oral history – the internet meme, the click bait, the Top 10 list, the gossip column. Does that make it devolution or evolution? What is the point of the electronic dance of characters and videos?

Am I just too old to see that which is unfolding before me? Am I trapped in a space between what was, what is, and what will be? Does it even matter if I can feed, clothe, and house myself?

Despite everything I’ve said – I don’t think the issue is the internet per-se – it’s this social media phenomenon. I resisted Myspace, then Facebook for years. I use Twitter just for beer research. But I’ve still been hooked. If I didn’t feel caught, why are my happiest life experiences away from the internet? I have to admit for nearly 8 years of my life the majority of my communications with humanity are Email, IM, and text. And then the people I lived with I saw face to face, and people I’d always hung around with.

“I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.” Mahatma Ghandi

With social media it is all about interaction via dissemination. It’s addictive. Get on that band-wagon, be the first, be the best, be individual – and do what thousands of others are doing. We are not unique snowflakes, nor are we the all singing all dancing crap of the world. Social Media is not communication. It is not dialogue. It is exposure. It is information.

I have to ask – Is there some primordial hunter gatherer aspect deep within our brain which is happy to pick and hunt information? Just like the arguments I got into over the ice bucket challenge, it seems that there is a slide to the appearance of appearing to be something, someone, or somehow a certain way.

At the start of this year I had nearly 900 Facebook ‘friends’. I now have a social network of 161… and even that seems a little high. By weening myself back off it, I will slowly rebuild me in the real world. And I’ll be obliged to makes calls, and go face to face. To live in the world, and not just observe it.

I’ve removed most of the details, its just me… my thoughts, and some photos. The only thing appearing on my feed is now people. There is no other marketing. And 7 years ago when I joined that’s all I really wanted. A log, for me, and some close friends and family. I am not a marketing exercise – I don’t even like adverts on TV, the papers, or walking down the street.

Does this make me a bad person? No. It just means I’m trying to find a way outside the feeder/feedee cycle of information. I seek knowledge and wisdom. Drowning in information isn’t helping. If I am not seeking it out – then I truly am a marketers dream.

“Questions are a burden to others. Answers are a prison to oneself” (Poster in “The Prisoner” – ‘Free For All’)

I’ve just flipped over 38 revolutions around the sun. Yet I still haven’t shaken a small irony tonight as I write this. I hoped it would. So I’ll leave you with a video, I don’t agree with it in totality. But it’s far far better soul food than most of the garbage I filter through seeking nuggets of wisdom. It’s worth watching it all. But I smiled and wept inside around 1hr 23mins.

Note to self: Be skeptical. Ask questions.

You might find your own personal natural philosopher one day….but I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just showing what I did. And how I got to this sentence. We all believe in the power of our beliefs.  Politics is a questions of beliefs. So do all beliefs have political consequences?

“How to Win Political Arguments”