The problem is that the pervasiveness of technology and mass marketing is screwing up a lot of people’s expectations for themselves: the inundation of the exceptional makes people feel worse about themselves, makes them feel that they need to be more extreme, more radical, and more self assured to get noticed or even matter

On Kelsey’s recommendation (and also several others’ recommendations over the past few years), I’ve decided to crack open “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” (by Mark Manson). I find it odd that this book has lately become so successful — particularly on the heels of Occupy Wall Street. Let me explain by contrasting two quotes taken from a short section of the book near the heading “The Tyranny of Exceptionalism”:

It’s strange that in an age when we are more connected than ever, entitlement seems to be at an alltime high. Something about recent technology seems to allow our insecurities to run amok like never before. The more freedom we’re given to express ourselves, the more we want to be free of having to deal with anyone who may disagree with us or upset us. The more exposed we are to opposing viewpoints, the more we seem to get upset that those other viewpoints exist. The easier and more problem-free our lives become, the more we seem to feel entitled for them to get even better.

vs.

Having the Internet, Google, Facebook, YouTube, and access to five hundred–plus channels of television is amazing. But our attention is limited. There’s no way we can process the tidal waves of information flowing past us constantly. Therefore, the only zeroes and ones that break through and catch our attention are the truly exceptional pieces of information—those in the 99.999th percentile.

I hope the contrast between these two quotes is clear enough — but let me underscore the ridiculous absurdity of the completely opposite arguments, separated by only a few lines of text.

First Mark Manson says we are more connected than ever. Then he follows this by maintaining that only the 0.001% matter. Either we are connected to each other or we are insulated from one another — which one is it?

That largely depends on your level (or perhaps “kind”) of literacy. If you believe in irrational media (based on brand names), you thereby allow such brands to function as gatekeepers, insulating you from the 99.999%. If you believe in rational media (based on natural language) then you will become more connected to other similarly literate people (note that literacy is not an “either / or” switch, but rather a choice to engage with people who use a similar language, a similar dialect, a similar jargon, a similar communication style, a similar manner of speech, a similar mode of expression, understanding, feeling, seeing, believing, and so on).

So-called “social media”, being based on brand names, fall into the irrational media category. The market-leading brands (mainly Google and Facebook) use quite simple algorithms — clearly Google search has one of the most widely respected brand names, and the Google search algorithm is a slightly adapted version of the “Go” “Goto” (see “GoTo is considered to have been an influential pioneer of paid search.” [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo!_Search_Marketing#GoTo_and_Overture ]) algorithm , acquired by Google about 20 years ago: higher bidders get higher rankings (Google has primarily adapted this by preventing users from being shocked by information they might find disagreeable, which Google carefully monitors via their meticulous user tracking throughout all the aspects of a user’s life which the company are able to collect data on). In this context, it remains unclear whether Google’s own media properties (which they appear to obscure under the “Alphabet” corporate body) get a “free ride” or at least reduced (and therfore non-competitive) rates.

2 thoughts on “The problem is that the pervasiveness of technology and mass marketing is screwing up a lot of people’s expectations for themselves: the inundation of the exceptional makes people feel worse about themselves, makes them feel that they need to be more extreme, more radical, and more self assured to get noticed or even matter

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