on sizing people up via their hashtags (or how we’re losing our spontaneity – even our innocence)

My last post was quite virulently in favour of the British Labour Party, defending quite firmly its position and coherence.

It was quite a while ago, now, too.  And Rodney bore the brunt of my comments.

I haven’t really changed my position, mind.  I think, in the Hobson’s choice of a world we live, I have no choice but to vote Labour in the next general election.

I’m sure, even, I shall help out somewhat, in some practical way, to achieve a Labour victory.

Even where its partial nature is looking increasingly inevitable.

I’d be sad if it didn’t happen; if Labour didn’t win.  But then again, I’ve learnt over the past four years or so how to be permanently sad.  Aggression serves no one; it only bullies its exponents into the kind of violence, torture and rank idiocy our states are currently revealing; have clearly (though surreptitiously it’s apparent now) been exhibiting behind our backsides.

Coincidentally, I was tweeting back and forth this evening on the subject of digital paranoia.  Can it be called paranoia any more when everyone now knows we’re being permanently surveilled?

The pragmatic litmus test in the past said a person was mentally ill if they couldn’t function in society.  No matter that a Catholic believes the Freemasons are out to destroy her Church.  If this is couched correctly by a person who in every other respect is considered normal, this person will not be classified, diagnosed, medicated or put away.  But the Lord forbid if someone without religious faith believed they were being followed!

Until today, that is.  If digital is the new default, and maybe paranoia too, is there any chance these two facts are connected?  Does a hyper-connected world inevitably lead to, engender, predispose people to paranoia?  And if so, and if it’s real, and if we can – even so – function under the strain, are we not to be defined as paranoid?

Even as we all begin to commonly use the language, the fears and the instincts which in other times caused serious diagnosis?

The number of people you hear these days talking about “spook-led conspiracies”, as terrible news hits the media everywhere of CIA torture, VIP paedophilia, cover-ups of possible police involvement in all kinds of crimes … well, there’s tons more stuff you can stumble across which doesn’t bear repeating here, I can tell you; tons more stuff you shouldn’t read.

Has the world become a different beast then?  Are we to be judged incorrectly fearful of those who follow or not?

Maybe not.  Maybe these new defaults remove the power of the defaulting to damage us any longer.  Maybe our ability to adapt to changing circumstance changes what we are, too.

The grand humanity of humanity, historically speaking, lies in its capacity to deal with so much of the crap that comes its way.  That, arguably, is what we are built to do.

But what if it gets to the point that we cannot deal with this sense of existential nudity our social-media-constructed goldfish-bowl existences generate?

For surely we are living in the least spontaneous epoch in history.  Everything we do now, we do whilst we wonder who might be watching.  Certainly on social networks.  Possibly, with the advent of smart TVs, video-consoles with cameras and the suchlike, also in the comfort of our very own sitting-rooms.

And this, equally, must have an impact on the kind of human beings we’re growing up into – human beings who, painfully, must leave our absent-minded infancies behind.

Sometimes on such a pain that death literally intervenes.

To be a social being – as human beings once primarily were – is clearly to be a lover of touch; of sight; of smell; of sounds; of memory.  But in the kind of societies which tech now occupies on our behalf – its social demands and its social spaces – mediation of the message, the lines of communication I mean, becomes a way of getting closer by paradoxically insisting we get away further.

Is this a good idea?  Don’t people thirst for the reality and liquidness of real, physical, touching contact – the uncertainty and insecurity of meeting people you don’t have the measured opportunity to entirely size up from their hashtags first?

What is this politics of distancing – this process of sociocultural stepping apart – we are now all bursting to engage in?  What is this communication which only serves to categorise us – and divide?


Oh yes.  Maybe I am moving away from party politics.  But maybe the disenchantment is something quite different – or much wider.  This lack of spontaneity I mention, how it’s being trained right out of us … I dunno.  It’s serious stuff, and I’m not sure if many of us realise how serious it is.

Either way, both politics and spontaneity-wise, I do realise how wrong I may be.  I realise there may be no alternative.  Maybe spontaneity is the madness of love and reckless pursuit all wrapped up in one foolish moment of hope.  And in both politics and emotions, where one is often the other, such abandon is perhaps quite the wrongest thing we could presume.

What’d really be enchanting, though, is if someone one day – any one of these days – had the gumption, the love, the curiosity and the generosity too, to accept that party politics was better than war.

And even as it seems it was not much better than war, that war would be a darn sight worse than what we have – despite all.

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