Martyn Richard Jones
When you have read this, if indeed you read it all, will I have failed to convey the essence of what I am trying to get at? Will a confusion of entropy win the battle? Will the wheel of fortune turn in my favour, or will I fail to connect and communicate effectively?
Let’s give it a spin and see what happens.
First, hold this thought. Bertholt Brecht never wrote “Latest smartphone, yacht in Nice and apartment block in Manhattan, then ethics” what he wrote was “Grub first, then ethics.”
We’ve never had it so good, right? We are living in an always-on, always-available and consumer-centric world of immediacy, simplicity and conformity replete with a surfeit of adult toys, legal drugs and other me-too brain-cell-killing distractions.
We are relatively comfy in our abusive environmental broth, as life moves at an ever-increasing pace, bombarded as we are with a burgeoning plethora of knowledge, information and data, which we occasionally try to ingest, process, remember and even reuse.
In many ways, it’s almost inevitable that we are increasingly superficial, contradictory and imprecise in our readings and interpretations of emotional states, interactions and motivations.
This malaise or sanguinity (depending on our personal perspective) extends to what we now term ‘content’, whether that content is found in a film, a newspaper, a magazine, social media or scrawled on a napkin.
Examples of the zeitgeist of superficiality and intense mediocrity exists for all to see. But what drew my attention to these phenomena, more than usually, was the general reaction to a few blog articles that I republished fairly recently, which, on the whole were taken on face value, even though for the best part I was being somewhat ironic, satirical and occasionally cynical.
With an ever-increasing exposure to knowledge, information and data of dubious value, we are more superficial, less attentive and self-centred, and the focus is increasingly on the short-term, instant-gratification and perceived levels of service.
Let’s take a case in point. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass deception, clearly misleading other leaders, international agencies (think UN), politicians and voters, in an attempt to justify their clearly chosen options, before, during and after the fact. Hold that thought.
Other leaders have also been economic with the truth, but in the case of Mister B and Mister B, this was the first time, at least for me, that it was so blatant, with little or no attempt to dress up the misinformation and the non-facts in the language of deception.
But, this isn’t about leaders, this is about the uncritical and wilful acceptance of abuse, manipulation and exploitation of ourselves, and the leaders who we like to think are somehow responsible for providing and sustaining the pyramid of our needs.
The problem runs deep. We accept with far too much ease and too little critical thought the lies, deception and the denigrating ‘cheeky’ mistreatment of each other. In a way, society is reflecting fiction, and fiction is reinforcing new certainties. Just look at the venal nastiness exhibited in many of our reality shows, and the ways the media continually condones and praises our ever-growing lust for ‘crap, things and stuff’. It’s curious to observe societies that have partially or mostly embraced political-correctness in which a overabundance of nasty people have moved away from being nasty to any clearly identifiable social, cultural or economic group to raining down their putrid nastiness on individuals based on more random, more obtuse or more subtle forms of prejudice. This can happen anywhere, from the office to the pub, from TV to social media, and with the youngest to the oldest. It’s out there, for all to gaze upon, and it’s not good.
Before I touched upon the deceit, the lies and the nasty deviousness of politicians, but it’s not just the politicians who do such things. I look at parts of the English-speaking world and I see that these attitudes have tainted almost all levels of society. Ambition, greed and hubris have all contributed to turning the nicest of communities, the keenest societies and some of the best businesses into wretched sewers of degradation, manipulation and a use-and-abuse culture, one in which the rats and the cockroaches have the best chance of survival.
It’s everywhere, like STD, pornography and Big Data. It taints LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, emails, messaging, Wazzup (or whatever, I ain’t bovvered), and it invades other channels. Politicians lie to us , misappropriate funds and misuse their offices. We are misinformed by media companies, utilised by bosses, guilt-tripped by businesses, spied on by co-workers and treated as idiots by self-styled gurus, and in the case of those in my profession, especially by the wags who regularly appear on the popular technology-bible bashing channels.
Which in a way reflects the words of Albert Camus when he wrote, “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”
Seen from here, in our post-modern society, we (and here I am referring to the parts of the world I know about) have wilfully traded in our virtues for the banality of dead-ended vices that exploit us, entertain us and ensure that we remain unquestioningly dumb in any real, significant and useful manner. We are oblivious to the possibility that we have become unwitting victims of the dolefully touching illusions that, for example, leads us to believe that we are the centre of attention, the ‘he’ or ‘she who must be obeyed’ and served, and the reason why the earth and the heavens were ‘created’.
So, does it matter in the great scheme of things?
Probably not. Look at it this way. Kingdoms come and go, power will always change hands and we are all dead in the end. Empires grow with their attendant virtues, vices, and decline and fall by corrupting and forgetting their intrinsic worth and emphasising their iniquities.
There is also another factor to take into account. Not all societies are afflicted in the ways that I have previously mentioned, and not all people on this earth, fortunately, are interested in gaining more wealth in exchange for ‘nothing’, nor in the accumulation of useless trinkets and shiny baubles. Whether we are talking about the latest smart phone with 5TB of storage for photos, a yacht in Nice or another apartment block in Manhattan that will remain vacant, forever.
I will leave you with this one thought. Every time we double the volume of Big Data we halve our capacity for wisdom.
Many thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.
My Twitter account is @GoodStratTweet
Also connect on LinkedIn at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/martynrichardjones