Thursday, September 10, 2020

Gif of the Day


Bears would make a great next dominant species, don't you think?

What is Truth?

Today I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma and it was pretty good and interesting, talked about political polarization and acted like the far-left is just as bad as the far-right so you know I didn't like that a whole lot, but overall worth a watch. The thing that really got my brain gears turning was when one of the social media expert dudes started talking about how if we, as a species, can't have some collective notion of what is true, we're fucked. He said "doomed" actually but you know.

This, of course, was in reference to the issue of fake news and a general loss of confidence among the populace in news media or any information that might come their way, no matter the source. I myself am suspicious of any information coming out of the U.S. government, while others no longer trust scientists and academics.

Is this going to doom us? The guy in the documentary said that we needed to get back to having some collective consensus about truth, but I wonder if that's true or possible. With the internet, there is so much information and it may be impossible for governments to regulate the spread of misinformation. First of all, how do you decide what is misinformation and what is truth?

Something I've learned over the years, in part thanks to social media, is that there is no universal truth, no universal reality. We all assume the sky is blue but it's not to colorblind people, is it? Right now in Oregon the sky is orange. Fuck you.

In order to live through these shitty, shitty times, I think what we really need to do is deconstruct our very idea of "truth" and "fact." I'm pretty sure I've already blogged about reality tunnels. It seems true to me that every person, being a unique human being with a unique brain structure formed out of countless life experiences that are in turn shaped by our unique DNA, parts of which can be changed or activated by experiences, sees the world in a unique way. We don't really know that the person next to us even sees colors in the same way we do.

What social media has done is enable us to smash all of these different realities together. Without understanding that someone's reality can be so different from ours, we can get very upset when they say things that seem to contradict our reality. And it's by no means a cure for internet-fueled outrage, but realizing this has helped me detach myself from social media fights. It's hard to get hijacked by that shit when you sit back and realize that this person's reality has been shaped by such different forces.

Doesn't mean they're not still an asshole. But it helps to understand a little bit how they got there.

One time I tried to explain the idea of reality tunnels to someone who was trying to fight with me online and boy howdy they did not like that AT ALL. Which is understandable. Humans really like the idea of universal truth and fact because it makes things simple and easy. But they're not.

We all want answers to the 5,000 problems facing humanity right now. We all want to know why the world is so fucked. But the only answer I've come up with is that humans are messy little shits flailing about, creating technology that so rapidly outpaced evolution, we don't even know how to make this whole civilization thing we came up with work anymore.

In my more optimistic moments, I think that what we're going through right now is growing pains. It's happened to humans on plenty of occasions, particularly when some new technology was invented that left us forward. It used to be that we'd invent some new metal or weapon and go about killing each other more. Now we have technology that would look like demon magic to those people but we can't stop the whole U.S. west coast from burning down every summer.

We have an old-timey scholar's dream of information at our fingertips and we can't gain consensus on whether the Earth is round or whether throwing children into concentration camps is bad. We no longer know what truth is.

Maybe we just need to let go of the idea altogether. Or at least realize that what seems obvious to one person seems absurd to another. One of the best parts of the documentary, though I was aware of this already, was its demonstration of how one person's search suggestions and Facebook feed can look totally different from another person's based on a shit ton of data factoring in things like shit you've searched for in the past, what images you've looked at the longest, your location, any personal information you've given the tech overlords freely, and on and on and on.

It's as variable as the human brain.

A lot of people still don't get this. It wasn't long ago I was seeing a lot of "omg if you type this and such into a search engine look what it auto-fills" but that auto-fill can be different on the phone of the person next to you. I think people have finally started to get this but that only scratches the surface.

I worry sometimes that social media radicalized me and what that means. It's hard for me to feel like radically wanting everyone to have a healthy and fulfilling life no matter what could be a bad thing, but I don't know, maybe I only think that anarchism is a sound philosophy because of the Twitter users that ended up on my feed because of The Algorithm. Maybe that's ultimately okay for me but it does creep me out a little.

I think humans are naturally optimistic creatures so I understand that we all had dreams of the amazing world we would create thanks to the internet. But really, we probably should have seen this coming. This technology has drastically altered the world in such a short period of time, of course there is upheaval. We just have to hope that we'll figure it out. If we can't, well, then good luck to the next species on Earth that evolves to become sentient or whatever. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Gif of the Day


I really really like this game okay.

Back in Black Bloc

[Content warning: Future tripping, extreme pessimism]

Well that was a summer.

Having anxiety feels a lot like you're spending your entire life bracing yourself. For what? Who knows. But this year I have a better idea, and my tension headaches have been worse. It's like I'm just constantly in a state of waiting for the moment that the world ends. I know it will probably involve fascism, the collapse of capitalism, climate change, and a fuckload of police brutality, but that's all I know.

Again, more than usual, but it's not much.

And at the same time, I have no vision of the future beyond November 3, 2020. I cope with my anxiety in part through methodical planning. Not that I've ever had an exact vision of my future because I've learned time and time again that shit goes awry, but a general road that I figure I will follow for a while. That road now stops at November 3 and gets shorter by the day.

My plan until then? Get ready. I literally just want to try and get into some level of mental and physical "shape" before that day. Part of that, I've decided, needs to be keeping a journal of some kind, so this is what this blog will be now. I don't need to report on any news in my spare time, that's what I do for work.

So for the second half of August I took a vacation from work and I tried to take a vacation from reality as much as I could. I was high for a lot of the day every day for nearly two weeks before I just needed to stop and be sober for a while. I definitely think I have a problem with weed at this point but fuck I mean who in the hell is getting by these days without some kind of crutch? I'm just going to do my best to keep it to confined to weekends (counting Friday nights because I said so) and keep plugging away at this health thing.

It was hard but inevitable to come to the decision to take care of myself rather than continue to constantly feel guilty about not helping more with the local uprisings. I want to be one of those people who is able to go and march every day or nearly every day or even once a week, but I'm just not there. Guilt around that gets all mixed up with general white guilt, knowing that many Black people don't have the luxury of feeling like they can take a vacation from this shit, or feeling like they can stay home and take care of themselves, or afford vacations or even weed. 

But at some point I've got to face facts. The guilt is not motivating me to do more, it's only adding to my piles of shame and stress, making me less able to help. I need to get a handle on this anxiety and my habit of avoiding anything that might make me anxious. Because that's a lot of stuff. Even thinking about trying to figure out how I might be most effective to the cause makes me anxious. Everything makes me anxious.

I've also got to break this awful habit I have of suppressing my emotions. It sounds weird but I do it automatically, without thinking about it, and even actively against my own wishes. It'll happen and I can feel it happening. I can feel whatever emotion I'm experiencing shrink and get shoved down and a lot of time there's a physical sensation in my stomach, a feeling of tightness or even pain, like my stomach is literally knotting up.

Sometimes I feel like I've largely lost the ability to feel anything. Sometimes I'll be smiling and laughing even and I'll think "but I don't feel anything, do I? Is this feeling? Didn't I used to feel so much more?"

Weed is weird because it often makes me feel better, and often seems to allow me to feel more. But the more I take, the more it feels like it's another way to avoid. On the one hand, it seems to create an ability to think on a deeper level than usual, to make all kinds of connections and even determine the nature of the universe and purpose of existence. I've actually got a running theory, all thanks to weed. But at the same time it makes it harder to focus? And I'm pretty sure it messes with my sleep.

So those two weeks were what might have been my last hurrah into just total avoidance of all the problems, pretending things were fine, and doing and eating some things for perhaps the last time. I really don't know anymore. Things could go really, really bad and we might lose electricity and maybe I'll never get to play a video game ever again? 

It seems possible. Don't listen to me on this because I got 2016 wrong but I have this unnerving certainty that Trump is going to win reelection. When that happens, I figure either riots engulf the entire nation or they fizzle out like they always do and things just get worse and worse under the next four years until either shit collapses or we reach 2024 and Trump declines to leave office, leaving us with the choice to either burn shit to the ground or sink quietly into full, open fascism while more and more people disappear.

This is why I can't much stand liberals right now. Liberals promise nothing much better than more of the same, and when you know the same is not sustainable, then all they're doing is promising you gold while handing you a big bowl of shit. No one likes that guy.

This is why I have no faith in the system anymore. I grew up being promised a bright future only to watch that transform into despair and visions of fire. Things have only gotten worse since I was born and the only path I see toward something better is dark and violent and uncertain. I'm scared and I don't know what to do. I feel like we're on a track and we can't get off. Too many people will continue to be afraid to fight. Liberal promises that have never manifested will continue to prove themselves lies.

Is there anyone out there who's not mentally ill anymore? What's that like?

All I have to hang onto anymore is what I will do for the next two months. I will do my best to get as healthy as possible for the day when I am really needed. I know fixing myself is the only logical thing to do, because I can't help others well while I'm so broken. Maybe I shouldn't be putting it in those terms but that's how I feel.

I feel so much. Actually, I feel like the accumulation of all the shit I've tried not to feel over the years will take as many years to dig through, and if I let it all out at once somehow the sheer force of it would cause me to literally disintegrate, maybe even take out part of this apartment building. At the very least the screaming would upset my neighbors.

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Anyway, I might post daily, I might post periodically, and I will at least sometimes post gifs again because that weird thing with the WEBP files seems to have disappeared as mysteriously as it came. I like gifs.