A COMMON MISTAKE

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Complaints of a Pointless Nature

Compulsory Pre-Blog Updates: Three days until Cyberpunk Trashcan finishes editing. Cover artist found and hopefully workin’.

I should start, before my thesis, by saying that I do not think that technology is an inherently bad thing. There is no such thing, I believe, as an inherently bad existence. I love technology. It is one of the few things that still causes enthusiasm in me in any measurable way on a regular basis.

Still, we are creatures limited by the nature of our own minds and so it occurs that we create traps for ourselves in so many ways. Maybe I’m getting old. I don’t know. But we’ve made a really sort of terrible mire that we will eventually escape, but I wonder how long it will take and what the cost will be in lost opportunity along the way.

To stop being vague, I think social media is this sort of amazing trap. I’m not decrying it or the state of the world. There are plenty of people doing that and I am far to lazy to bother with the histrionics anymore. Really, I’m exhausted by the internet in its entirety almost. Except the porn. That’s generally pretty nice.

But let me talk about the trap. Just for a minute. We have this tendency to react and then, either slowly or quickly, kind of cool off. This is nice when things like complaining take effort or require us to make another person uncomfortable in some way. Social media sort of removes all barriers to the ability to throw rational thought into a given argument. I’m not immune to the trap, though I am aware of it and trying to get better about falling into it. A short example is one you’ve likely all been a part of at some point. You see someone say something you disagree with or see something stupid or you bite into a hotdog and it’s bad. Before any reasonable judgement comes in, or even just because it’s a consequence way of venting, you fire off a tweet or post or whatever. No problem. It goes nowhere. Maybe they will even change their mind. Or they don’t. And the person replies angrily. And then you’re angry again.

I forget if I mentioned it last time around, but that stuff leaves a sort of slow-building impression on each side of a given internet fight. Those fights get lumped in. Blah, blah. Other outcomes include spending an hour arguing with someone you don’t know or care about over a given circumstance you don’t really have good information on and likely don’t really care about. No fight on social media is the defining moment in the history of that topic, regardless of the fact that major news outlets now seem content to report on twitter posts as though they were meaningful.

Like I said… it’s a trap. A painfully circular one that at the end of the day has no real meaning. You’re either trying to appease the people you think are watching who you agree with so they will pat you on the back or to zing someone you aren’t in agreement with so your agreeing friends will pat you on the back for that as well. Or just so you feel good for that few seconds before you go see what’s on Netflix or Reddit or whatever site.

And that’s the grand joke of it all. The proof none of it matters. An argument, even a sound one, on seemingly important issues. Passionate words flung back and forth. SCREAMING! GNASHING OF TEETH! All of it ends for both sides with a casual return to whatever you were doing before. No discomfort. No life made worse by it. None of it is substantive. There are very few exceptions to this. It’s all just a momentary flash of righteous espousing of one’s views. Not a debate or a consideration. Just shouting “I LIKE THIS! I HATE THAT!” and then a rush of brain chemicals rewarding you for having done it. In some, more naive, people it could even seem to them that they’ve contributed to some grand cause.

I like to believe we’ll get past it eventually. That our brains will tire of it. Or tire of the other people and just start ignoring it all. It’s exhausting.

The nature of it reminds me of a city in Kino no Tabi. The people there had developed the ability to, technologically, send their thoughts immediately to everyone else around them, thinking that this would bring them all closer. Knowing true thoughts meant knowing true love and disallowed the hiding of things. People could be frank and address their problems and feelings. The reality was less beautiful. People thought rude things if they were interrupted. Not things they meant. Just base impulses. Those were sent. Worse was sent back. A casual thought about how someone looked was sent. Unfiltered. Not meant, and never meant to be heard. The people all moved away from the range of other people’s thoughts.

We seem not to be faring much better than them. Maybe we will get there eventually.

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