I’ll Be A Good Cyborg As Soon As I’ve Finished Vlogging: How Digital Power Has Become The New Opiate

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Culture, Politics, Technology

I haven’t been here for a while.

I mean, I’ve been here, sitting in front of my computer, doing…stuff (yes, fine, there’s been some porn involved) but I haven’t been blogging.

And it’s not because I haven’t had anything to say; I’ve drowned Twitter with my inanity and the things I’ve learned just at my job the last eight months or so would fill about twenty posts worth of material; I’ve just had a hard time sorting through all the noise to find something I wanted to write about.

That noise…

The world is vastly different now than it was even a couple of years ago.  Whole lives are lived digitally; the online world allows bravery and cowardice in equal measure and the Internet as a whole has gone a long way to reversing the popular wisdom that led to, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” It no longer matters entirely what you look like, first impressions are now based on what you say about things people care about.  Let’s not kid ourselves; it’s not as though we’re living a brave new world wherein you don’t still have to go to the gym in order to get your chat room sweetheart to blow you, but we’ve certainly come to a place where thought is currency.

That led me to think about the 14-year-old Walrus and what he would think about the world as it is now.  Would he stand in awe at the technological marvels we’ve wrought? Or would he cringe at the fact that the future of Western civilization is so very bleak?

The world as we know it is ending.

Not in that fringe, it’s 2012 and the Mayans were inexplicably right, not to mention the Christian apocalypse is happening and there’s a hotdog shortage kind of way; if you believe any of those things I strongly suggest you consult management about how your brain cells were misappropriated. No, I’m talking about the fact that the way we live our lives is quickly becoming unrecognizable from what it was even a decade ago.

On an average day I spend more time looking at screens that aren’t part of a TV than I do looking into people’s eyes.

Think about that for a second.

Between smartphones (the fact that autocorrect didn’t underline that word only highlights my point and, really, is there any other kind of phone anymore) tablets, Bluetooth everything, laptops, desktops, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Drop Box, the Cloud and a thousand other very recent developments, almost all of our human interaction is done by way of touching shiny surfaces and spewing thought into the wind.

Should suicide rates be up because of this? After all, we’ve basically destroyed the concept of non-sexual, adult human contact. I don’t know if more people as a percentage are choosing to check out early, but I doubt it. The online existence has given everyone the opportunity to vent and find people of like mind who are also venting, so maybe life crippling loneliness and depression are on their way out due to digital opiates.

Hell, 2011 is going to be looked back on as a banner year when whole governments were toppled by people who organized support in 140 character blurts. The U.S. government and its allies have been plagued by their failures to protect information from petulant children masquerading as cyber Batmen and the net result has been the release of torrents of information that can be collected by anyone, anywhere with just the idle tap of a finger.

And speaking of information; between Twitter curators, news aggregate apps and the frightening godlike power of Google search, five year olds can now discover for themselves that their parents have been lying sacks of shit on the whole Santa issue.

In short, we’ve become as close to omniscient as it’s possible for people to be.  We’re not just cyborgs; we’re cyborg deities, bound by no borders and denied nothing.

So why are we still so intensely stupid?

It’s not just our lifestyles that are changing; the economic and governmental systems that brought us to this point (for where would Apple be without the need of consumers to consume) are also shifting radically. And not in a happy, isn’t it all grand kind of way.

We’re maybe a decade or two away from the complete collapse of free market capitalism, as it exists today. If the U.S. follows through with Quantitative Easing (printing money by the truck full) rounds three and four, they will hit hyperinflation. In English?  A hundred dollars will buy you what one used to. If they don’t; if they turn off the taps this summer as they’ve threatened to do and as Congress inexplicably wants them to, you’ll see another flash crash in the stock market, followed by layoffs as valuation plummets, followed by massive decreases in foreign spending. And that, kiddies, leads to global depression.

I swear I am not making this up. This is the point that banks that were “too big to fail” and leaders who were a little too friendly with those banks have brought us to; they just kept kicking the can and didn’t realize they were quickly approaching a wall.

So that’s one.

Progressives are losing the culture war.

People who are so deeply socially conservative that they don’t really care about the other things that “conservative” means, have created a powerful political movement. It is based on noise; if you have enough people screaming loud enough, it doesn’t matter if what they’re saying is true; it just becomes true.

Obama’s not a U.S. citizen!

Solution: States are passing statutes left and right requiring presidential candidates to provide original birth certificates before being allowed on their ballots in the next election.

Teachers are lazy assholes that are sucking the system dry!

Solution: The entire U.S. is going into a frenzy of eradicating collective bargaining rights.

Health Care is the devil!

Solution: A sitting president is probably going to have to defend a cost cutting measure designed to save lives to the Supreme Court.

The Atheist Agenda is winning!

Solution: Jam prayer and intelligent design back into high school bio classes.

There are more, but you get it.

These are not isolated pieces of insanity but rather the culmination of a pressure cooker of resentment that has been brewing between those on the far right and left for decades. It should never have gotten this far; the more distant the social extremists become in a society the more firmly anchored in the middle that society should become. It has come down to the fact the middle has become completely anesthetized by how awesome we all are.  We’ve spent so much time poking each other and micro blogging about Survivor that we’ve given up the keys to the kingdom.

Now, you may be asking yourself; Walrus, you’re Canadian, why do you care about any of this?

That’s a stupid fucking question.

At this point the United States has become a financial leviathan that overshadows everything it sees. The fact that its Congress is being run, at a time of near financial ruination, by howling psychotics who have no interest in governing but only in pushing their agenda through should terrify everyone, even the ones that just had to look up leviathan. What happens to them happens to us. Not immediately, but soon.

What kills me is that people aren’t storming the streets, armed with gopher blowers, shotguns and severed limbs lifted in violent defiance, demanding our world back. We, each of us, have access to more instant information that any combined million of our ancestors. How did we let this happen?

It’s because we’ve allowed the very thing that should have elevated us, to rule us. We have become cyborgs in truth; our programming has overridden our organic brains and, instead of curating information that would free us and allow us to make the world a marvel that would amaze future generations, we’ve chosen to use all of this technological wonderment to figure out the best way to bitch slap Rebecca Black and get, like, a hundred retweets.

Fourteen year old me would be horrified at what we’ve built. He looked at the future and saw nothing but potential. The Internet was just starting to catch on (people used Alta Vista as a search engine. Shudder) a fantastic hard drive had 8GB of storage space, reality TV was limited to the nightly News and Glenn Beck was still wrestling with alcoholism. There was a horny, pot smoking lunatic in the White House and the word pirate was reserved for bad Halloween costumes. There was limitless possibility to what we could have done.

We let ourselves down.

Now.

We have two choices. Neither of them involves the status quo.

We can unplug. We can take these huge lists of contacts we’ve accumulated in our online lives, meet each other in person and take to the streets to reclaim our world. It would be hard, but we’re only a few years in. It’s not too late to become politically active; go, talk to your neighbors, smack them out of their zombie stupidity before they become walking dead in truth. Actually talk to people. Find out what’s going on with people beyond their Facebook statuses. Look each other in the eye again.

Or.

We can clean up and wield our digital world like the tool it is.  Anonymous and Wikileaks have shown us what a very few people with no defined ideology can achieve in this digital playground. They’re not even finished and they’ve already brought corporations, countries and bigots to their knees. And they did that for fun. Sometimes for flat-out petulant reasons.

Imagine what we could achieve as a group. On purpose.

I’ll be back soon.

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Comments
  1. Well said Bob, i don’t socialize on the web, though that might change in the coming month’s, year’s. I am not that social offline as well. As a result i myself am facing a very severe economic down turn personally, like how am i going to eat next week, but hey i will sought some thing out. People are mad, not just politicians and bank executive’s, buy mad i mean crazy. some of us connect and work as a team, but mostly it’s just civilized chaos. i watch show’s like mega structure’s and mega factory’s and marvel at the logistic’s behind it all, organizing trained people doing said task at said location in said order. I have worked on a large construction site, by large i mean massive. It is a slow and chaotic process, with a lot of mad worker’s getting pissed off with each other say 50% of the time and that is a good job.

  2. Yes old pal – i ‘liked’ this and prodded the star. That led me to a box i could not complete because i did not know what to put. Then the bastard box would not go away, and when i went back it was miles from where i wanted to be – here. No wonder i am the ‘first’ to like this post. Why the effing hell can’t you have a thumbs up thingy that simply COUNTS the clever people who like your amazing writing. And now i am expecting you to get in touch with me, perhaps we could play a game of chess on gameKnot where i am corfugitive, and send me some of your terrible kiddy pictures to do something with because i am – ok was, a leading child photographer in the whole world when it was really difficult and English people did things BECAUSE it was difficult, not because its easy, like you lot.

    To hear your analysis of the US is sadly very near to my own, and due i suppose because i have looked at a few of the millions of sites YOU have been looking at, and am of course a devoted atheist since i left home and stopped having to please my dear and wonderful mother. Hope this does not alienate me from you. I spoke to you a couple of times when you used to swear a lot – years ago. I am delighted to see what a great command of the actual language you have.

    Would you like me to send you some of my exceptional pictures of my cats for your little one? I have not blogged for ages – i think the site was called Dr-Awsom.blogspot.com Please come and see my daughters and granddaughter and some more cats. You will like my English – it is superb.

    That will effing teach you to suggest we should communicate properly with each other instead of by these stupid tweet things – Oh! so aptly named for the BLOODY BIRDBRAINS who use them.

    You are so young – i had no idea – but you talk about very grown-up things. Have no doubt, I respect your brainpower, but expect you to prove my confidence by getting the fuck out of this very silly cybercrap nonsense. Listen, i have a lot to say about ‘belief’ as opposed to ‘think about’, but cannot quite bring myself to try getting the ideas around. Do lots of people read what you write? Let me know, and an email for the pictures. Bob

    • The Walrus says:

      Hi Bob,

      Sir, you would kill me at chess. I’m an emotional decision maker and so lack the necessary patience to play a game that requires contingent thinking. Now backgammon, on the other hand, that would be a treat.

      I have been trying to find a simple Facebook like button for the posts, we’ll see what I can come up with lol. My daughter would probably love some pictures of the cats. Email me anytime.

      And no, not a whole lot of readers visit the site; about 100 on a good day. But that’s better than it used to be 😀

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