Is it real?
The first response I find myself having when I hear, see or read any piece of content today is questioning the authenticity of the information.
The media thrives on hype and hyperbole.
All members of the political class cater to controversy, whipping up anything that has the potential to make their political enemies look bad.
Sponsored stories infiltrate social media feeds and pose as “native” news.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other networks are rife with fake friends and followers, spambots, artificially enhanced popularity.
Advertising has gone underground and is now embedded in the content we consume daily. It’s hard to chew on anything without something getting stuck in your teeth.
We live in an age of transparency, yet now that everything is see-through it’s harder to tell what’s real and what’s just made to look that way.
Data, data everywhere and nary a thought to think
It seems to me the most valuable resource of our time is believability. Can the source be trusted? Is the information accurate and does it actually mean something?
There is great and pervasive disenchantment with the structures of governance in place in democratic countries around the world. Politicians, large and small, are not trusted. So desperate are we for even the semblance of something real that a salesman like Trump is praised, even by his enemies, for speaking his rude, uninhibited mind while people who actually tell the truth become enemies of the state# Snowden. Whistleblowers are almost always hounded, harangued and diminished by their act of bravery.
Why is it that we only learn the dark secrets from insiders? What level the greed of men that requires such obfuscation, confabulation, smoke and mirrors to distract and dishearten the rest of us on the outside of the great money-making machines of our time?
Not trusting and not believing what we hear from all formerly trusted sources (religious leaders, political leaders, corporate leaders) is now the norm. So badly has our faith been abused that it no longer matters what is said by whomever steps up to the podium to speak. The podium belies the message.
We now search for truth in messaging apps and recommendations from our personal networks, outsourcing the problem of deciding for ourselves.
We are reverting or perhaps just returning to trusting instincts, and the loudest most instinctual acting among us are emerging as the new kind of tribal heads taking us not forward, but backwards into a world where only the muddy waters of personal experience seem to count for anything.
For all the openness the internet has wrought and accessibility to all of the world’s accumulated knowledge (mostly textual), people don’t care to read much anymore and react most intensely to pictures and pictograms. We live in a time when virtually everything ever written can be accessed by anyone anywhere with an internet connection, but we prefer to look at Kim Kardashian’s Asstagrams.
It feels like we’re being lulled into a submissive state, like the gentle dimming of LEDs of the mind, reducing our appetite for reality in favour of the virtualization thereof.
I wonder if the reason we’re so excited by the possibility of wearing headsets to explore fake worlds is because we’ve lost hope and grown fearful of discovering anything exciting in the real one we live in.
The world laments the shooting of one gorilla born, raised and killed in captivity while the wild ones dwindle away into history, their natural habitats diminished and destroyed, their bodies hunted and butchered for meat, medicine and magical charms.
We can all tell stories about every moment of our lives through pretty filters and fun gizmos we hold in our hands. We can share our thoughts, ideas, insights and observations. But for all the content production and consumption streaming through the airwaves, how much changes anything about the way we think, act and live?
How much of what you read/see/hear do you really believe?
Or have you stop caring if it’s believable or not, as long as it is mildly entertaining and distracting enough to fill the time it takes to devour it?