No one else seems to be saying it, and I’m just self-important to believe putting it on my blog no one reads will do the job. Still, I want to say it and that’s what all this shit is for.
I am not an old man. Not quite. Not yet. I’m not scared of social media or the inexorable march forward of technology. I love them. I welcome them. But they have an effect on how we live, collectively. An effect built from the nature of the media that came before it, hilariously enough.
You see, the world has changed. We are all connected in ways that our brains never imagined was possible. This, like every change before it, amplifies our base nature to an extent. Or rather, it amplifies the volume at which we receive the things our base nature desires. That’s a really round about way of saying we crave the same things we always did, but instead of being inside a candy store, we’re now inside a candy ocean. The candy we want, sadly, are chemical dumps from our brain. Strong feelings lead to strong dumps of rewards from soup of brain juices. You all likely know that on some level so I’ll save everyone the time of going over anything more in depth. Suffice to say, it’s why we love horror movies and roller coasters and helping up a person who’s fallen down.
But like I said, the world has changed. Now there is information constantly. Not constantly like people thought with TV or with radio. It’s constant bombardment and we are creatures who will seek out the things that give us the largest reaction we find enjoyment in over and over. This problem will not shrink as we continue to advance, it will only become more pronounced. That’s fine. We’ll adapt. I’m confident of that fact, at least. I could be wrong.
In the mean time, I want to use what little place I have on the internet to try to be a voice in the torrent of screams who tries to go a different way. This is not a post about Orlando or politics or any of those things individually. Rather, it’s about all of them and what block buttons and follow buttons have done to how we consume the pixels on our screens.
We like to feel. Even anger. People brush up against ideas they hate from time to time so they can rant and scream at a righteous target. It’s easy, meaningless, and cathartic to be sure. The righteous target you are imagining right now likely varies drastically based on who you are, where you are from, how you were raised. And that’s exactly the issue I think sits in front of humanity at the present moment, and perhaps for years to come, though I don’t think we can stand the strain so something will likely give.
Crucially, going back to the point, we forget that the targets we use to find catharsis are other humans. Humans who were raised to think a given way. Or who came to think a certain way through living. They value those ways of thinking deeply, for better or worse, and those things inform both their self-image and their self-esteem. To attack, for example, guns or illegal immigrants or homosexuals or Islam… this things cause a person to feel personal insult to them. While the attacker slides off back into the digital sea, tiny bricks begin assembling themselves into ideological walls. They reinforce themselves. People block the people who disagree, only coming from behind the digital shield to attack. This is true of all sides of all issues nearly all the time. It’s comfortable, right? You lash out at the idiot who doesn’t think as you do. The objectively wrong moron who probably fucks his sister or drives a Prius depending on your view of the “other.” Then you get to go back to websites and subreddits and wall posts that agree with you. Vindicated, not in your actions but by a general consensus that those people are wrong and you are right.
The real humans build real actions out of real interactions with other real humans and no side really stops to consider their part in it all. No one reaches out to another human to have that conversation. Twitter is large, angry dialogues 140 shallow characters at a clip. How do you fit nuance into 140 characters? Or into a post on Facebook people will actually read? Hilariously as popular TV fiction strives currently to give us some of the most nuanced characters we’ve ever seen, real human interaction is becoming curt and memetic. Sound bites and catch-phrases and image macros that are meant to represent the whole of a human’s point of view on something. Everything thinks “Why the hell would I talk to a stranger about _______” when they spend all day doing exactly that. Reading articles and tweets from strangers, having conversations in their heads with people who don’t exist to justify feeling this way or that way about someone. Branding one word descriptors onto anyone who doesn’t fall into line. Cuck, racist, libtard, sexist. On and on and on.
Still. Everything’s going to be okay. We’re not the animals the internet makes us seem to be. We are not simple and the world is not crumbling. We have not become headlines and tweets. We’ve only become distracted by rewards easily had and caught up in a passing wave of divisive passion. They will distract us from our progress as a species. They will slow us down. But I do not believe we will stop. We may need to relearn lessons already told because they did not take well enough, but we will learn them again in time. All the while, the world will continue as it has, I think. Becoming safer and healthier and more wonderful with each passing year. And do not misunderstand. That is the state of the world. The bad things have not multiplied. They have shrunk. Diminishing toward nothing. It is not less accepting, but more. You may not see it, but that is the way of things.
Remember that knowing about more of the atrocities that have plagued this planet since well before man does not mean there ARE more. Only that you hear about them more. You will learn to temper your reaction to them in time. We all will. This is okay. Don’t be afraid of it. Just look to the side every now and again, make sure you’ve moved forward from where you stood before.
So long as we keep moving forward, the rest will sort itself out.