Sometimes I’m surprised by the people around me. I attended Plzensky Barcamp last week, and it was amazing. People were showing their skills, talking about a bunch of stuff that interested them, and were really amazing in many other ways. Yet I felt the presence of despair. The reason was that I could not reach out to them – their worlds were as separated as possible from mine. When thinking about it, I realized that it is the outcome of the never-ending process of specialization. We are driven by our careers so much we don’t even have time to build a common ground in our society. In this sense, it is difficult to believe that some kind of understanding is possible on a broader level. I attended a workshop where programmers were talking about building an application to create laws. They were convinced that it would work perfectly, without any mistakes or emotions. Yeah, let’s do it, I thought. What else can we replace? What will remain?
My friend told me that he bought a new camera for his wife. He was a little bit upset about it. Now, he said, we travel to take photos, not to enjoy our day. I totally know what he means. When something is not posted on the Internet, it practically does not exist. Our lives revolve around it. We are unprepared for a real social interaction without any technological involvement. I can see it myself. This is why I established a strategy for my own photo-video documentation. I delete everything every now and then. I don’t hesitate. The best moments will always be remembered, and fuck the rest. Why shall I care?
Living should be effortless, unfocused, independent. I don’t get why someone believes that happiness is what is needed in our lives. I do not advocate disasters, deaths of family members or anything like that. But why the hell should I be happy? Happiness is like the ultimate weapon of discontent. You can still reach for more, still focus on a new goal. But why? I’m at home right now, I do not have an ordinary work, or purpose. And sometimes it makes me happy and sometimes unhappy. We are trapped here, our bodies are our prisons, we cannot escape. So why pretend that life is something more than this?
People, beautiful people,
Stop being assholes,
That’s the only thing that I know is right.
In today’s discussion on Facebook, I realized what is the problem that has been puzzling me for a long time. It was the ability of people to analyze content in its full range, and not just take separated events to form one’s opinion. It was in the discussion about “Islamic culture” and its possible impact on the so called “European culture“. Once more the commenters engaged in the discussion about the dangers of the former, and its possible negative impact on the latter, despite the fact that both of them are highly abstract and metaphorical constructs. I felt unsettled once more, and thought hard how to convince them there is no such thing as an imminent threat of Islam in Czech republic or even Europe. But I was wrong to persuade them into a discussion that was based on a wide range of empirical evidence and historical and social facts. No, they would not listen. Instead, they posted links to a CNN video about the Sharia Law patrols in East London or started posting photos of armed children from Arab countries. These educated individuals were using a very limited information to support their claim that Europe should deny to provide immigrants from Islamic countries right to settle in.
Girls With Skateboards, Afghanistan
If I omit the fact that it is common to base an opinion on a social media hearsay, there is one big problem that can be potentially more dangerous. While every hoax, propaganda or just unreliable information can be finally reversed, it is the way of thinking that ultimately remains the same. The problem is that there is a strong tendency for our social values to be drawn from singular events. Instead of thinking about the events as a whole, it is easier to decide whether to support or not certain thing based on one piece of information. In our example with Islam, this means to take 9/11, Taliban, or attacks with acid, or Sharia Law, and extrapolate the evidence against all Muslims. Somehow we know that it would not apply to all one billion persons, but who cares?
Nazi Demonstration, Location Unknown
This ignorance-based reduction is now in its heyday, and media are serving it well by bringing as much separated events as possible without providing background information about the context in which they are happening. This means that we are constantly forced to take stances just by following the media, and in a seemingly random pattern. One day, viral video about China appears and everyone seems terrified that they will take us over. Then the cameras turn to Palestine. Then to North Africa, and so on ad infinitum. We are forced to make our opinion in the yes/no fashion about events we don’t understand so that it feels almost as a reality show. With the difference that this reality is real, and can have a very real consequences for someone, who happens to be on the losing side.