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.

The Consumer Audience is Obsolete

Today, you have no audience — today, when you write to express your ideas, you do so within a wide variety of logical systems.

There are no news consumers sitting in laid-back postures, there are no fans leaning in to your news narratives. Your story is moot.

Well, speaking of conservative candidates, I just drone on and on and on and on, never letting anyone else get a word in edgewise, until I start foaming at the mouth and fall over backwards…

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – The Naked Ant [S01E12] — e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTLeBybJhSo&t=449s

The passive consumer audience is brain-dead.

Active production of meaning is now a matter of interacting with natural languages (cf. wants.blog ). It is participatory, it is emergent, it is generative, creative, and does not merely follow a narrative prescription. It evolves from day to day, context to context, and it is connected. It does not need no education, Google — no central authority, no golden algorithm to solve each and every problem. It is decentralized, distributed, networking.

Zita is engaged in helping to build this world — why not participate, too?

Messing around

Wow! Gushing appreciation really feels wonderful. 🙂

Let me back up a bit. Some people don’t have an appreciation of language quite like mine. Most people. Almost all people. Maybe I’m strange.

Quite a few people (2, to be exact, I think) have gotten upset about how this blog has cited their work. Maybe about half of them have mentioned the name of this blog as objectionable.

I wonder how many people understand the way this term is used (colloquially). Even a plain and simple Google search would reveal an inkling of this — but I do not advise paying attention to Google, so whatever, nevermind.

It’s not lewd. It’s a newfangled word for “relationship” (without all of the “love”, “dating”, etc. attachments). It’s actually a quite ironic reversal of what average people might expect as to which term is more involved with heavy-hitting emotional baggage. Most people immediately see those four letters, and jump directly to prohibition.

But that’s all just introductory rambling on my mind.

Words (and the 8-letter string “fuckwith” is so commonly used, that it ought to be considered a word IMHO) make connections (I will spare you the details, but if you really want them, then go ahead and check out the work of super-smart dudes like Ludwig Wittgenstein and Noam Chomsky). When we express our thoughts with words, we make associations between the way we see things (and/or we describe relationships we recognise) in the real world.

The string “fuckwith” is especially ambivalent. Sometimes it means a clearly positive vibe, other times it means something like “fooling around” (or “messing around”), the way a so-called troll might behave. In both cases, it is very nonchalant.

Let me get to the point about why I started writing this post:

I came home and slept the best sleep I’ve had in weeks, filled with delightfully fun dreams

https://legendofvelda.com/2020/07/19/connections

Velda wrote that in part because of my work with words! 😯

When I tell people that words and natural language are actually the most basic information technology there is, they tend to ignore what I just told them. Then within like 5 minutes, they will type a brand name into their computer or smartphone and actually believe whatever the brand name tells them. Brands are not words. Words are trustworthy. Brands are distrustworthy.

To Fuck With or Not to Fuck With

Obviously, no one should want to fuck with the Corona virus.

But how about with people — in particular: people who behave poorly (aka assholes)?

When people behave poorly, then that has little or nothing to do with me… so why would I want to fuck with people like that? Do I have time for that? Hell, no! Especially if those people aren’t even interested in anyone else, how their behavior might impact other people, or anything like that.

I think when people treat you poorly, it is easy to be misled into thinking that might have something to do with you — but it doesn’t. If I behave poorly, then that is no reason to treat me poorly. On the contrary: in that situation, I guess I would need help.

So when people treat you or me poorly, let’s do the right thing: just walk away.