Treading water in the stream

Rapids

I haven’t posted much here in a while and, honestly, I don’t know if I have an audience anymore. You gotta feed the beast or it’ll just go gorge elsewhere at the unlimited trough of spankulation that is the Internet. It’s easier to tweet, and now there’s Ello which hasn’t yet found its center of gravity or true genus locii to root down a thriving community. But it’s refreshing to post more than 140 char without the expectation of serious long-form journeys. And I don’t use Facebook so Ello at least offers some potential to have an intellectual cohort that won’t rat-hole into that heady blend of extremism and uncritical non-thinking that seems to be coded directly into the DNA of Disgracebook. So consider this post my sort of Fakebook personal rant…

But then, I’m not sure I have a lot to say these days. Partly, I do so much of this sort of thing at work where the audience is internal. The content is fairly narrow but still insightful. Not the broad random walks through techno-behaviorology that I’m inclined to pursue here. Partly, on another axis, the Twitters and the constant streams of the technoverse and geopolity have got me a bit swirly, like the inertia of information is too great to adequately slow down and process into some sort of theory. The fascination with the stream is at the expense of any fascination with the particulars of life, like it’s all moving too fast and I’m being entrained to be little more than a relay node in the network. Click, retweet, copy-past, post. A servant to the memes, like apes collared to silicon just to grind out more 1’s and 0’s.

So much of the stream seams meaningless – fleeting glimpses, spikes of outrage, stories about things and events that will be wiped from the collective memory within a week. And maybe that’s the point, to bring all the mundane details to light, to share the bits with each other, to fully become the eyes of the world, in witness of it all. But then, if I really think about it, it’s appalling how many resources, how much energy, how much labor born on the backs of the impoverished, how much of this all goes to keeping the platters spinning and the switches switching and the rare earth’s rare-earthing, across global data centers sucking down megawatts to make sure we archive every random bleating of the global mind. To a post-psychedelic techno-futurist like myself, it’s a bit confusing to feel at odds with the marvel of it all.

I can’t remember the source but this phrase about digital transformation really stuck with me: that it’s emulsifying entire industries. Which underlines that there’s very real import to the network spankulation, that we have some obligation to roll the dung ball of modernity around and around beneath the Sun, to check it for deformations that might drive truly dangerous emulsifications. We can snicker at the death of old industries but what about the demise of comfort or wellness or nutrition or the oft-anticipated end of the state… Are we really ready for this degree of transformation? So I’m left with a crutch of faith that the stream is, on balance, a positive tool to keep us all engaged with the Great Work of unfolding the possible with some integrity, without destroying more than we create. That the relentless bleating of sheep is what keeps the shepherds attentive and considerate, and that the global mind helps us better evolve the animal within towards something more tenable than base self-preservation, something much holier than religion, something much more wise than science.

It’s a lot to put on a stream, I know, but maybe having a degree of faith is what keeps us swimming, lest we give in to the rushing depths and fall like stones, inert and silent.

Comments are closed.