There’s a Person On the Other End
You may or may not have noticed …
My social media pages are always changing — every few years or so. There’s a reason for this — a method to my madness. The effort I have put into this, over the last 40 years, has been a reflection of how we change, but also how we forget who we are, as humans. It’s by design. I could give you a play by play run down of the stages of the evolution of my online personae, but I’d rather just give you a few bytes of context.
Back in 2010, when I first joined the almighty Facebook platform, I had already played around with social media networking sites — like mySpace and yahoo — for a good spell. I think for those of us trying to legitimately carve a space for ourselves during the ‘age of me’ — in the late eighties and early nineties — it was a curious and fairly benign place to exist with other humans.
I used to believe there was a little man inside my computer, giving me the finger — every time I asked my dial up connection to do something and it instead, crashed my computer. Yes, I said ‘dial-up’. Remember that? Back then, most of us did it on our down time, some of us pursuing it more fervently — reaching for greater connection out there, imagining our online personae someday becoming our actual personae — you know, stuff of super heroes. We all do it to some degree. Some have actually been trying to cultivate legitimacy for their not so popular views all this time. Imagine feeling the frustration of a young adult with the world as it is today. Now multiply that frustration times three or four, even five decades of the same problems over and over again — going on unrecognized, unaddressed, perpetuated ad infinitum. Are you getting a better picture of our need to connect and address the ‘elephant in the room’ now?
Back then, we were just playing with the idea of being ‘viral’ although, for many of us — we fully understood the implications of the power of the platform. At least on some subconscious level, we did. Because during the ‘age of me’ — the whole idea was to appear unique in a sea of template pages. When you’re in this mind set — you really don’t want to have to deal with anyone else but yourself anyway. Because in order to even ‘be’ there, you are trying to use a medium that has yet to be fully fleshed out. How do we want others to perceive us? Over extended periods of time, this mindset can lead to a nasty side effect — born of ineffectual and even dysfunctional social media networking. Being in this headspace can lead to disassociation and depression that can even manifest as narcissism — the ugliest and possibly most hurtful kind of delusion.
Another hidden treachery of the time (then and now) was the amount of garbage that was out there in cyberspace, for any one and everyone to stumble into and lap up — with no consequence other than to have your identity hijacked or photos of ‘last night’s rager’ be used as blackmail, of the seediest sort, against you. It was this type of behavior that spawned my laissez-faire attitude toward how I presented myself in these online circles. I wanted to be taken seriously, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my integrity or credibility as a human in my daily life — especially when I was in and around the company of other humans. After all, if anyone was ever going to take you seriously, you couldn’t work under your actual name unless you had the back up of academia, science or a business— it was a given. I had none of these, so I put on my kid gloves when dealing with unknowns back then — never sure of where these connections were coming from, never quite sure what these cyber entities intentions were. I did align myself with academia, science and even put on my professional hat in the business sector, but I never did give up the ghost. Cyberspace has been and continues to be a curious place for humans to navigate, but regardless of the inherent pitfalls - #WePersist.
Online, you could be what ever you wanted to be — not that I ever wanted to be anything but my authentic self, but most of the time — in my waking life (remember that movie?) AND my life online — I encountered enormous amounts of bias, and quite frankly — a whole lot of ignorance driven by intolerance, arrogance and the apathy that comes with it. I was lucky just like the rest of them- having a machine to work with and a connection to the great sea of open dialog. But I understood the privilege and gravity of my circumstance. Being born to a middle class white family in rural America, my parents were educated and wonderfully loving, buying me the books and materials I needed to better understand and learn more about this new frontier — this wild and whacky place we now call the internet.
When I got to college, I dove into being in my skin 24/7 — rarely jumping on the internet, perhaps only to check my email. Yeah, I’d play the occasional computer game, but even back then, the gaming modules and the evolution of their ‘joysticks’ (lol) were starting to take hold with a certain sector of our culture. (Yes, you can you guess who.) It all seems so sad to look back and see that it was all coming for us — this tsunami of our collective subconscious saddled with facts that would bludgeon us over the head with the truth of our on line presence. I mean, I did see the implications of the internet — as a tool for communication and learning, but I never imagined it would become the proverbial Romper Room it has become for a handful of deluded and mentally stunted humans. After all, back then — we just weren’t utilizing the internet to the same degree. I’d get on my PC to do my papers and check my email once or twice a week. It was manageable. Today, it seems things are not that much different. If you’re plugged into doing the work expected of you while you’re in school — or even at a new job, you really don’t have enough time cultivate an online presence. That is, unless your job dictates you stay out there in cyberspace; networking, connecting and cultivating this new space for the possible. Who knew a handful of these dark agents of the collective psyche would go on to test the power of ‘free speech’ and the unchartered and unpoliced connection of cyberspace? Look at QAnon and the parade of #MisinformationWars sites on youtube and television channels. Fear and ignorance are hot commodities for sewing the seeds of distrust in many online circles. Why? Because we are born to navigate the trials of having to prove our value to our republic, forced to fend for ourselves. This is what a capitalist society without guardrails will produce.
All of this, as a burgeoning performance artist, intrigued the hell out of me. It still does. What a time to be alive. The world of technology offers so many more versions of ourselves that those who have the means, simply can not resist joining the greater cloud of cyber surfers. Luckily for me, I continue to have healthy sense of imagination, autonomy and optimism when I approach the idea of existing in this space between the physical and the virtual. I often feel many of my generation — and the generations before me — have succumbed to the darker tendencies and ambitions of a rotten under-lament. Primarily because we naturally tend to forget. It is the challenge of our lifetime — to remember where we come from and muster the curiosity to wonder where we might be going. We must constantly be reminded of these things, other wise we spin and fester in the enormous weight of #now.
Realistically speaking, there are a goodly amount of people running around with visions of rotten sugar plums dancing in their heads. The rot of deception, misinformation and it’s flagrant proliferation is ruining it for — dare I say — the whole world.
The ‘Age of Me’-ers who refuse to release the decidedly sticky grip on their ‘joysticks’ continue to ruin it for every other human being on the planet. No joke, every human being — held hostage and thrall to the constant stream of garbage that continues to pour from these ‘entertainment — news’ sources. (I hear it’s being called Foxism.) This relatively small handful of mislead, misinformed and misguided humans are seriously deluded and are willfully, but unknowingly, holding the rest of us for hostage. Some of the heads of the largest corporations have also fallen subject to this disease of shortsightedness and victims of the #MisInformatioinWars. Their already mechanized beating hearts impervious to the cries of all of humanity — to release the patents on these life saving vaccines. #SaveYourself #GetTheVaccine or #DoWhatYouCan It makes me literally crazy, like the Mad Hatter, to know our society is not calling these people - parading as humans — out. Hold them accountable for crimes recognizable by the Geneva Conventions.
So if you see one of my social media monikers pop up on a thread — ranting about how the people holding the bag are holding our lives and the future of the planet for hostage, you can believe it’s an honest to goodness human being at the other end of the keyboard/voice recognition/VR reader trying to implore you to ACT while you still can. Do not drink the mind-numbing koolaid of fear, ignorance and misinformation. #ScienceMatters #ArtMatters #WordsMatter It’s not worth begging the question for the thousandth time when so many continue to die every minute. Take it from me — the human currently on the other end — be well, have fun, but please take life seriously. Need help? Take the professionals seriously, they’ve spent a lot of time in their fields collecting data and studying and communicating their findings with one another. It’s a whole different type of ‘social network’ — one that really takes the word ‘social’ to task.
“A life unexamined is not worth living” [at least not for the god forsaken sentient human beings]. ~ Socrates
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot
“No one is perfect.” ~ Everyone that claims to be human.