There’s a “performance enhancing smart drug” called PPP. The drug helps people “enhance their cognitive performance” and “help make difficult decisions” by “stimulating the part that helps you think outside the box and make new mental associations with old real-life (RL) referents.” However, if you take too much, you’ll have a seizure and hallucinate your ass off.
In practice, PPP is used by elites, illegal for everyone else. Classified as a “job-creating smart drug.” (the law works like this: only people who are making decisions which could seriously help the economy (generating jobs or GDP) are allowed to take the drug for inspiration. Anyone poor caught doing the drug is abusing it because their “trip” won’t result in upping the GDP or improving business efficiency, therefore they must be just taking it to get high as shit, therefore it’s ABUSE.) (similar to the “big boy rule” of financial regulation)
So now there’s a certain few hundred incredibly wealthy/influential people who are in the throes of various earth-shaking business/scientific dillemas: (is the bubble going to burst this week? Should I go short and liquidate my $3 billion position? Should I move against my partner, is he screwing me behind my back? I’ve got this workable cold-fusion generator, everything is invented except this one particular bit of the process, and I need inspiration to solve the last equation!) and they had these drug based epiphanies – a further side-effect of PPP is to convince the user that their “trip” contains the simple, final , correct answer to their dilemma . . .. BUT THEY CAN’T INTERPRET THE MEANING OF THE EPIPHANY. (This epiphany comes from the Original Trip, or “OT”)
Even worse, it also gives you nasty flashbacks for months afterward, which a) disrupt your job performance and b) tease you beyond the point of human endurance: “Fuck! If I could only figure out what these hints MEAN! My subconscious is still trying to give me my problem-solving epiphany! If only there was some way to fit all the pieces together. . .”
Enter ANAMORPHOSIS EPIPHANIC OUTSOURCING SOLUTIONS ( A.E.O.S.)
This is a mysterious company that exists solely to help these hundred-or-so elites who are haunted by their PPP flashbacks. Anamorphosis refers to the type of optical illusion that sculptors sometimes make: where you see what looks like a bunch of random sticks sticking up from the floor, but if you stand in one specific point of the room – if you look at these random sticks from one specific perspective – the random sticks seem to auto-assemble into an easily recognizable object: a chair, a bicycle, or what-have-you.
That’s the whole point of AEOS: They implant their Client’s hallucinations INTO OTHER PEOPLES’ MINDS , and use the other people’s trips to give other points of psychological “perspective” from which to view the Client’s own trip. So, from the Client’s mind, the OT (Original Trip) looks like a bunch of random sticks, but from the perspective of another person (called the Subject) in whom the same OT was induced, the sticks might resolve clearly into a bicycle or chair (i.e. a clear solution to the Client’s RL problem, the missing part of the math formula, a financial decision, etc.). Incidentally, the use of Subjects is the “outsourcing” part of the acronym.
How does AEOS implant the Client’s drug-trip into the Subject? And, more importantly, how do they keep the Subject from learning the Client’s super-secret and world-economy-altering dilemma along the way?
Short answer: AEOS invented a second drug QQQ: a PPP-derived drug that (when mixed with a small amount of the Client’s spinal fluid), allows one person to experience the flash-backs of the Client’s trip. But not the trip itself. You don’t experience any of the context or narrative of the Original Trip. In fact you don’t even know you’re high. If you’re on QQQ, you don’t feel euphoric or freaked out. If the Client’s trip revolved around incredibly realistic hallucinations of x,y,and z, the Subject on QQQ would instead experience a regular day where everything she or he saw would REMIND her/him of x,y,and z. In short , QQQ tweaks your mental associations of things to match or correspond to the OT. You don’t think that the tree has come alive, that it is talking to you, but instead you say to yourself, “Man, the leaves in that tree remind me of a face!” Like a dream, little mundane things will jump out at you and seem significant, even if you're not sure why they are significant.
And here again there’s the theme of anamorphosis: a lot of the way QQQ works is ITSELF based on anamorphosis: it’s not the kind of far-out drug where you’d stare at a plain white wall or a clear blue sky and then see a puppy or Richard Nixon. You don’t even see a puppy or Nixon hidden in complex patterns on a rug or patterns in a cloud. You’re most likely to see the puppy or Nixon when you’re looking at complex things FROM A CERTAIN PERSPECTIVE: the leaves of a tree arrange into Nixon’s face just for a split second, just when your head was in that one position, and only then are you reminded of him.
The thing is, it’s not just random mental associations, there’s always a pattern: you don’t just have random mental associations of random things until you sober up. You consistently associate every Real-life thing x (plants, say, or reflections on glass, or the patterns on the walls of buildings) with concept Y (which came from the OT).
Anyway, the AEOS business has grown so large that it has split into several departments, which are frequently at odds with each other.
First, the Client meets with the top management: ALPHA DEPT, and the Client tells Alpha what their (super secret, proprietary, potentially world-economy-altering) dilemma is (i.e. the dilemma that had them resorting to PPP in the first place). Alpha keeps this a secret from all other departments of AEOS. Then Alpha de-briefs the Client on everything about their OT: what their drug trip was like, and what their flashbacks were like. This includes not only what they saw, but their mental associations WITH what they saw. (this is important to interpreting the meaning of the OT, because two people can hallucinate elephants but if the elephants have totally different mental associations to each person (one good, one bad, for example), then the interpretations of the epiphany would be totally different. ) These mental associations are then put in a proprietary AEOS database called the MAM. (mental association matrix).
Alpha then prepares a report on this information (the trip, not the RL dilemma) and passes it to BETA DEPT, of which more later, and GAMMA DEPT.
Gamma is in charge of making sure the Subject’s trip will match the Client’s Original Trip as closely as possible. For instance if the Client’s flashbacks were audio, they’d want the Subject’s trip to be audio also, and not visual.
Here a further digression is necessary: PPP trips are like shamanic vision-quests: pretty much all hallucination. QQQ trips, in contrast, are like this: The QQQ user sees things in RL (called Stimuli) and then mentally associates those things with the concepts (called Referents) which have been implanted by the drug. (“I don’t know why , but every single cloud formation I’ve seen today makes me think of Egyptian Gods!” as opposed to HOLY SHIT THAT CLOUD TURNED INTO HORUS AND HE’S COMING RIGHT AT ME AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE) The Referents all come from the Client, and are different depending on the Client.
Gamma does its job by choosing the appropriate varieties of QQQ to use on the Subject.
There are many different varieties of QQQ: they all work with different real-life stimuli. For instance, if the original person’s flashback involved monkeys, you might take one strain of QQQ that would cause you to mentally associate monkey faces with plant formations, another strain of QQQ that would cause you to “see” monkeys in clouds (same referent, different stimuli), a third strain that caused you to project that monkey flashback onto patterns on walls, a fourth strain that would cause you to think that background noises “sounded” like monkey calls, Or a variety that makes you mis-read signs/words consistently in a certain way. etc. And perhaps yet another strain would be tactile: it would make the enamel on your teeth “feel” different ways. Nobody likes taking that one.
This is important, because if the stimuli doesn’t match the referent, if the Client kept seeing her grandfather in the clouds, but the Subject’s trip is more like “these Graham Crackers really remind me of Gramps, even though he never ate them in his life, what is up with that?!?” . . . . it’s going to be harder for Alpha to assemble the client’s and the Subject’s trips into the final ANAMORPHOSIS.
Finally, Gamma would prepare a report for the lowest-ranking departments, DELTA and EPSILON. This report would omit the actual content of the OT. The report would consist only of: a list of all the Referents of the OT, the MAM of the Client, and the Stimuli of the OT.
Then, finally there are DELTA and EPSILON DEPTs, which are responsible for recruiting unwitting test subjects to take QQQ.
The process of finding Subjects begins with a fairly wide net: first, Epsilon uses a front-company, such as a market research firm, to recruit low-income people and would interview them about their mental association of 200 things (all of which would have been carefully chosen by Beta Dept, to match things in the Client’s original trip: if the Client associates elephants with dread or fear, and the subject associates them with circuses and joy, the potential Subject would then be dropped.) Once EPSILON finds a Subject with a good MAM score, and GAMMA concocts a potion with the exact varieties of QQQ to reproduce the Client’s flashback in detail, then DELTA DEPT goes to work.
So what Delta does is set up front companies that offer poor people good money to test experimental drugs for things like coughs, sniffles, butt allergies, etc. These “clinical trials” are a sham, and the “experimental drugs” are just placebos or simple over-the-counter medicines. However the placebos contain a lot of QQQ.
Since many PS (Potential Subjects) would either fail the MAM or not be interested in the drug trials, the whole recruitment process might involve thousands of PS, just for one Client alone.
The Subject would be dosed with QQQ and then released to go on about their average schmuck day. And here we have to discuss certain institutional problems with the Gamma Dept. management: Free-Range Gammas vs. so-called Stimulus-Led Gammas.
Sometimes with particularly difficult assignments (where the Client’s original trip consisted of stimuli that are fairly rare in RL) , A Stimuls-Led Gamma team might arrange for the Subject to be in a specific place at a time when that place is filled with x,y, and z IN REAL LIFE. The idea being that the real-life stimulus would “lead” the Subject’s trip to more closely correlate with the Client’s OT. Since Delta is not allowed to know the contents of the OT, specifically to prevent them from doing this sort of tampering, the Gamma team would have to surreptitiously send their own agents in (often on lunch-break) to follow the Subject or influence him or her.
The majority (AKA “Free-rangers”) believe that if the MAM and the QQQ-strain are well-adjusted, that the Subject would VOLUNTAIRLY depart from the course of their everday life and actively seek out RL spaces with x,y, and z. Furthermore, Free-Rangers believe that any attempt to interfere with the Subject once she or he has been dosed will compromise the whole assignment.
The Subject will spend a full day full of very small, seemingly mundane, events that they all happen to mentally associate with the same certain 2 or 3 things.
And when the Subject comes back from taking the drug, they’ll say, “Well, it didn’t cure my sniffles but I did have some weird experiences where the bushes around my apartment, when I looked at them from certain angles, I kept being reminded of the faces of my grandparents.”
And the “sniffle-medicne researchers” would say, “Well that’s too bad it didn’t fix your sniffles. But these perceptual changes could be, well chances are they’re not a side-effect, but just in case, we’d like to interview you in depth about them – were they frightening? Or reassuring? What mental associations did you have with the grandparent-faces? Did you only see them in bushes, or did other things make you think about your grandparents as well? When I say the word “bushes” , what is the first thing that comes to your mind? When you took the anti-sniffle drug and went about your average day, did you do everything as normal, or did you wind up impulsively taking some other course of action? We’re a caring company! We’ll set up a weekly counseling session, and pay you double your current pay to attend it.” And so on.
Just like with Gamma, there are also institutional problems with Delta and Epsilon, namely that they’re lowest on the toem pole and they know it. They are excluded from even basic information, like the nature and context of the OT. . . .for sure they can guess some of the original trip based on the screening questions which Beta Dept has written, if not then they definitely can infer the original trip from the exit interviews with the Subjects. Of course, a lot of these trips are totally failures (i.e. the Subject’s trip was totally off-the-mark (which is usually blamed on Gamma Dept for assigning the wrong drug, although Gamma is quick to point out that they never get to talk to the Client themselves and can only go on what Beta tells them, so fuck Beta, and fuck Delta too for goddamn screwing up the goddamn screening process!)) (the point being that even though Delta people, being the most left-out-of-the-loop group, love to try to guess who the Client is or what the Client’s trip was, often the Subject’s QQQ-trip is so far off-the-mark that Delta’s guesses wind up being hilariously wrong also)
Also a problem with the AEOS model: you've got these average low-income schmucks walking around, totally unaware that the fate of empires hangs on their shoulders. What happens if a schmuck just doesn't feel like coming back in to complete the process? In theory you could just keep draining spinal fluid from the Client and have 100 Subjects simultaneously doing the assignment. But that would radically increase the chance of one or more Subjects having a trip which was TOO CLOSE to the Orignal Trip, and perhaps an unusually bright Subject could then deduce the REAL LIFE dilemma of the Client, or infer the Client's top secret proprietary information ("Wow, I spent all day staring at clouds and thinking of cold fusion, and now I have this incredible itch to spend all my savings on stock in this obscure tech company I never knew about!").
After debriefing the Subject, Delta would then prepare a report for Beta dept, which details all the subject’s effects of their QQQ trip. And also how the subject felt about it, whether they were motivated to act a certain way as a result, their mental associations, etc.
Beta Dept’s job is to see the results of the Subject’s trip, and then try to see how well they could make the Subject’s trip correlate with the Client’s trip. They would comb through all the referents, stimuli, real-life decisions, and mental associations, try to find correspondances, coincidences, isomorphisms, metaphors, etc. There would be a baffling and pseudo-scientific system for numerically ranking all these correspondances, etc. assigning them numbers. Beta would prepare a written report for Alpha Dept.
And finally Beta would use the numbers to construct a physical model (the way high-end architectural firms make models of the proposed buildings to wow their clients), which model would show how closely (or not) the Subject’s trip (and its accompanying mental associations with the things seen/heard, and the real-life decisions that the Subject made based on those mental associations, etc.) matched to the Client’s trip. This often takes the form of a tower or two towers that are intersecting at such-and-such an angle.
This physical model is not just something to flim-flam and impress the Client, however. It is the heart of the whole AEOS system. Remember, Anamorphosis is a visual thing: by looking at the “random sticks” from a different perspective, they seem to self-assemble into a bicycle. And by assembling the two peoples’ trips into a physical model, then Alpha Dept and the Client can physically see the anamorphosis, which sometimes helps to determine the epiphany.
The institutional problem here is like this: Beta Dept is going to look bad if there’s no correlation at all, and (unlike Delta), they DO know the content of the Client’s trip, so they have an incentive to massage the statistics and spin the results of the Subject’s trip to match it. However, if they don’t accurately report the Subject’s trip, it will defeat the whole purpose: shitty or massaged data would make it impossible for Alpha to deduce the “true meaning” of the Client’s trip and give the Client his/her epiphany. So Beta is always walking a very fine line.
So, to sum up, the AEOS system is like an onion of secrets:
The first layer (Delta) is supposedly a clinical of some random cold medicine. But really it’s a way of dosing the Subject with QQQ. The Subject has no idea what they’re really being dosed with, and the Delta members themselves have only the vaguest idea what the Client’s original trip was!
The second layer (Beta) is to plot the correlation of the Subject’s trip with the Client’s trip, the way that a sculptor might physically decide where to put different sticks in a room so they look like a bicycle from a certain perspective. But unlike the sculptor, Beta has no idea what the finished thing ought to look like. They don’t know the Client’s original dilemma, just the contents of her/his trip.
The third layer is Alpha. Alpha takes the physical model and report prepared by Beta and shows it to the Client. Alpha has prepared a separate report where they try to use the “new perspective” from the Subject , in order to definitively say THE ANSWER TO YOUR REAL-LIFE DILLEMA IS TO DO THUS-AND-SUCH. Yes, short the market right now. No, don’t wait. Yes, you need to stab your partner in the back, she’s been robbing you blind. Here’s the missing inspiration for your science project that your subconscious has been trying to tell you. And so on.
And here again there are serious institutional problems: AEOS’s Clients are, by definition, people dealing with ideas which risk billions or trillions of dollars, or which could alter the balance of power of entire countries. For security/privacy reasons, of course, only the Alpha dept. has access to this. But Alpha members are only human, and might want to influence the Client to choose course of action A over B. Especially since the Alpha members themselves – being very rich owners of the AEOS Enterprises Corporation – usually have some conflict of interest: they might own some of the stocks that a Client is debating whether to short. They might own some oil wells in Iraq that would go out of business if the Client was able to – thanks to AEOS – invent cold fusion. And so on. Or maybe they are just morally appalled by what the Client is debating to maybe do.
Also, even more than the Gammas, Alphas tend to an extremist version of the Free-ranger thinking: even if the things the Subject did/saw/mentally associated are radically different than the OT, that doesn’t matter. Despite the deltas/betas’ obsession with exact correspondence, Alphas are more likely to consider the final Anamorphosis the priority – sometimes the MORE different perspective is more necessary to seeing the true meaning of the OT. This is expressed in the Alpha slogan, “The Subjects go where they NEED to go to answer your question. He was SUPPOSED to do that.” It’s unclear if they really believe that or just use that to flim-flam the Clients.
This brings us to, The fourth layer. The layer that not even the Clients know about. Just the Alpha dept. There might be something funny in the PPP drug that the clients are taking. Something that influences them or puts them in the power of AEOS. Not sure exactly what, but it’s the logical extension of the first 3 layers. Maybe it’s just a rumor – some black-humor circulated amongs the mid-level AEOS staff.
The dude is not only unbiased but he blows off the trivial sensational aspects in favor of context and talking to actual Lybians and Egyptians.
fourth thought: the usual muslims-vs.-americans violence is "You invaded our country so we're going to kill you."
This incident is NOT the usual. After all, the violence started in Egypt and Lybia, where the US was on the side of the pro-democratic forces and didn't put troops on the ground.
Instead , this is a case of "You are blasphemers so we're going to kill you."
The occasional muslim-vs-infidel violence (the Dutch moviemaker who was killed, the ongoing Salman Rushdie thing, the Danish Cartoon Apocalypse, etc) gets a lot more press over here, but the fact is : 99.9% cases of blasphemy-based violence are MUSLIM-VS-MUSLIM.
Remember during the Iraqui insurgency, all the Sunni and Shiite militias that were killing each other even more than killing our troops. And even right now, we have Lybian Sunni radicals are persecuting Sufis (who are also muslims). And the biggest sectarian conflict is in Syria of course, where it's basically a proxy war between Sunnis (Saudi Arabia, and , well, most of the middle east) and Shiites (Iran, Lebanon).
So the biggest victims of religious intolerance and "die, blasphemer against allah!"-type violence are . . . . other muslims!
Some people are saying "Well this kind of embassy-burning violence is to be expected if the West lets free speech get out of hand," but WTF, if middle-eastern muslims are more sensitive and tolerant in their speech than westerners, where are all the Sunnis killing Shiites getting their ideas from?!? Fox news?!?!?
I can tell you EXACTLY when rap production got fucked up: when sampling was outlawed. That’s right: I blame The Man.
‘70s rap records ( with music performed by live musicians) were cool, but it was ‘80s rap that was the most distinct! It was very minimal and noisy :
it didn’t sound like ANY OTHER TYPE OF MUSIC.
It had almost no melodies, it emphasized what was unique about hip-hop, rather than trying to sound like funk or dance music or pop. No melodies, just hits and abrasive noises over gritty beats. You could tell what song it was just by the beat alone, even without hearing the hook or the rapper!
It pissed off music critics – it even pissed off older black musicians, jazz musicians, who complained that the new generation didn’t have any theory or talent. Critics said, “this is just noise, not music!” And then the Bomb Squad came (public enemy’s producers) and took that negative and made it into a positive: they said, “You want noise, you fuckers? We’ll give you some fucking noise!” . . .
After that minimal early ‘80s sound, rap beats became more like: James Brown samples, then through the early ‘90s things got more melodic, but they also got more frenetic, as producers would layer on more and more samples, so you’d be hearing pieces of 5 or 6 songs at a time (why not, right? Sampling was free!) So that still wound up being pretty noisy.
All the other producers were faced with a choice: either get really creative with their samples or abandon the sampler altogether and just use keyboards. And they mostly chose the latter. Even producers like RZA that used samples creatively wound up using music samples, rather than found sounds or things they recorded.
Keyboard-driven rap just sounds like pop or dance music to me – it doesn’t emphasize what is unique about the art form. Plus it’s hard to take the rapper’s tough-guy talk seriously when he is using more synths than Depeche Mode or Duran Duran.
To this day, I waste a lot of time wondering what would have happened if hip-hop producers had taken the other fork in the road: what if they said, “since sampling OTHER PEOPLES’ songs is illegal, why don’t we record our OWN sounds and sample THEM?”
There’s a whole history of music made from found noises and sound collages – Italian Futurism in the teens and French Musique Concrete in the 40s. If hip-hop producers had gone out and recorded the sounds of their neighborhoods, they could have 1) avoided sampling lawsuits, 2) made music even more noisy and revolutionary and abrasive, and 3) represented where they came from.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF BEATS!
When I say "golden age" I don't mean that the beats are better than the beats you kids like. I mean the beats are more unique and revolutionary: they weren't trying to be dance or funk, or pop. it was hip-hop being fucking hip-hop. Also golden-age beats had to be ORIGINAL. Like if all you had for music was drums and a DJ scratching one note, the drum patterns , the actual RHYTHMS, for each song had to be a rhythm that had never been done before. There was a creativity. And the shit was catchy. Play just 3 seconds of any of these beats to an old rap fan (without even hearing the rapper or the chorus), they can tell you exactly what fucking song it is. Try that with a rock song (assuming you can find a rock song with all the vocals and guitars removed, just the drums!). Try that with a modern rap song (again, with all the melodies and vocals removed). Ha! Get the fuck outta here. Not even the fans (of rock or modern rap) could tell their own favorite songs apart just by the beats alone.
Of course, most of the music produced back then was awful. Just like with any era. But the following songs – all from i guess '85 to '89 – show what I am talking about where the beat WAS the hook.
Reality tv show: gather together half-a-dozen refugees from mind-control cults in different parts of the world (i.e. people who escaped cults, who have lived their whole lives inside really extreme ideology, but no longer agree with that ideology, but who have had no contact with the outside world basically)
refugee from Sudan – never seen any iron-age technology besides an AK47.
one of those poor women from the American Midwest Christian cults where dude has 20 wives and they dress like Little House on the Prarie
kid from North Korea
refugee from some psycho Hassidic family.
Some ancient crusty island motherfucker that is like the last survivor of the New Guinea Cargo Cults.
Various other misfits.
Put them together in a house and every episode would consist of this:
Sit them down in the main room and show them some artifact of modern Western society:
(for example, anything from the SkyMall catalog or a USB dildo or an Adam Sandler movie or a industrial packing pallet full of Slim Jims or the Willie Horton ad or some Star Wars bedsheets or even another reality show (i.e. season 1 , flavor of love) )
And just leave them alone to try to deduce the meaning of the object. Not just how it works, but more like: what does this object mean to modern Westerners and why do modern Westerners like it?
Play them a Bon Jovi CD and tell them “Over 30,000,000 people bought this. Why?”
Show them a velour thong and ask them “What is this for?”
Show them a fat-cart. Take them to a supermarket in it and ask them to pick out the “best” food.
Basically the show would sort of hold up a mirror to our society. Like the old “anthropologist from mars” routine.
More context would be given but only if asked for. The people on the show would “win” the challenge simply by providing a coherent explanation for the thing or its appeal to westerners. Whether we westerners agree with this or not doesn’t matter. Just the process itself of these folks from massively different backgrounds trying to puzzle over some garbage would be awesome. Everyone would have been taught from a young age that everything from The Outside World is Evil and Bad . . . but each person would have been taught a different REASON why, and on top of that, they all escaped their horrible homelands and no longer believe that ideology, but have nothing to replace it with. It would be interesting to see if by the end of the show, would they embrace the cheesy first world materialism or conclude that humans everywhere are all just as fucked up.
Imagine, ten years ago, if one of your friends had come up to you and said, “Hey Luis, I think you’re a rad fella, we’ve had a lot of good times, shared a lot of secrets, helped each other out of a lot of jams. . . .but from now on I will only be your friend if our friendship is mediated by a huge soul-less company that exists only to sell our private information to third parties. Well? Click yes to agree!”
You would have said, go fuck yourself. But nowadays that is the NORM for young people wtf.
Even though it’s the norm, obviously no one ever says this out loud – but they don’t need to! That is just how shit works nowadays. But next time you make friends with someone in RL, try explaining that to them in those exact words and see if you don’t fee just a little bit like an asshole. Turning regular people into corporate shills is just one of the crappy things about social media.
COMPARED WITH THE '90S NET, THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS.
There’s been a lot of noise in the past couple of years about The Man cracking down on the internet: domestic web spying, net neutrality, banning of file-sharing, weird SOPA/PIPA/TPP treaties, etc. But I don’t think enough people are complaining about social media, which is an even bigger threat because it involves users becoming their own jailers, in a sense.
I hated the ‘90s internet (rave pants, second life, the word “cyber” as a prefix), but at least there was a certain exuberance – the whole idea of “Let’s take the internet as far away from regular life as possible. LOOK I’M A FUCKING CYBER DRAGON WITH TITS! This is a new frontier and let’s just take this freedom thing as far as it will go. THE DRAGON HAS WELDING GOGGLES ON WTF!!?!"
But nowadays people want the internet to be as much like real life as possible – they want to log on with their own real name and connect with their real friends. What the fuck you need an internet for then? It’s like the modern net and social media in particular combines the worst features of both: all the non-privacy of the internet, combined with the lack of creativity of RL.
Just because there's less imagination, that doesn't mean that people are more truthful, though. On social media you can’t be anonymous, or a cyber dragon, you have to be yourself, BUT you can still lie your ass off: everything you write , every photo you take, has to be tweaked and massaged to make you look a bit cooler than you are.
Social media is like writing an internet dating profile that NEVER ENDS.
In the old net days, they had this saying, “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” Meaning: if people only read your words, they will judge your opinions based on how smart or persuasive you are, not judge you based on race sex or religion. Say goodbye to that!
There’s this idea that we’re losing our privacy to corporate marketing people who track all our net behavior, or that we’re losing our privacy to govt. spies. But the real balderdash is: people are voluntarily giving up privacy. They can’t WAIT to give up privacy. People on “Google plus” actually LIKE the rule that you have to use your real name. . . .because they think this will cut down on “trolls.”
They want to give out their real name, because they want to reconnect with old high-school chums or long-lost lovers or some dingbat from summer camp, or whatever. They want 1,000 “friends” and would prefer that those “friends” actually be people that they have had some real-world connection with.
Because hey! If they know you, you can guilt them into “liking” you. You don’t have to actually do anything interesting or write a rad novel or produce something unique. You just have to say “I’m that dorkwad you know from 10 years ago!” Whereas if you were anonymous, and you wanted friends, you’d have to actually be interesting. Or have cleavage. Whichever.
But what are you giving up, in exchange for “likes” and “friends” and “votes up?” well, basically you can’t write anything about your boss because she’ll see it and fire you. You can’t write anything about your parents for the same reason. You can’t write anything interesting at all.
I was going to say this took us back to the “bad old days” before the net gave us anonymity . . .but even back in the ‘80s, you never had your parents, teachers, bosses, ALL IN THE SAME ROOM WITH YOU, FOREVER.
One site I think is rad is ZERO HEDGE. It’s this person who works on wall street who constantly exposes secrets the industry doesn’t want you to know, or shows how the famous CEOs are wrong about things. That would never happen on social media, where dude would have to use his real name.
So, ok. No more muck-raking, no talking bad or exposing authority. No more creativity. You have to be yourself, but a really fake version of yourself. All of the fakery with none of the creativity/privacy.
THE OTHER BIG PROBLEM
One of the shitty things about school and work is: everything you do is quantified and ranked. Every second is scheduled. I did this many homework math problems. I made this many assembly line radios, with a retail value of XXX dollars. I got two Bs and 4 Cs. I read x books and got Y GPA. I was #3 employee of the month.
In other words, what made your free time special was: it was time when you were not being quantified and ranked.
But now with social media, they are taking the business/work/school model and pushing it into the last non-regulated parts of your fucking life.
Compounding the problem, if you look back, most of the best times of your life are precisely those times that can’t be quantified, ranked, or reduced to a number. The best times of your life involve intangibles or spiritual feelings.
Since these by definition can’t be reduced to easy-to-compare-and-digest statistics such as “likes” or “# of friends”, they have no place in social media.
The people who run these social media companies want us to use them every second of the day. That’s why they give us so many carrots and little hamster-pellet rewards for participating in their services: likes, upvotes, friends, whatever whatever. The result is that we will start living our private life in ways that are rewarded by SM, and neglect those activities that DON’T give us the little mechanical reward:
Imagine a facebook timeline like this:
You’ll never see that because
a) those wonderful experiences can’t be reduced to numbers,
b) advertisers can’t make money by selling you epiphanies, and
c) you can’t link to those things. Even if you click on the blue words, there is no website that will give you that thing. “Oh! Growing and becoming a better person? Sign me up! Click here!”
Will the next younger generation lose the capacity to even care about experiences which cannot be quantified and ranked? To paraphrase a nice Bill Hicks bit: “Why would I want to take mushrooms in the desert and look directly into the face of god, and be told that all humans are one , and we are all worthy of love? That won’t show up on Facebook at all!”