This is how it’s going to work. I’m going to have thoughts. And then those thoughts will find their way here. So this is a series. Of thoughts. Published randomly. For no reason. Thank you for coming.
When Europeans were off “exploring” large parts of the world, and especially when they set upon the “New” World, two realities came together, two cultures, two world views, and when this happened the result was simple: millions of people died. This clash of realities produced the modern world. We mostly know the broad outlines of the story though we may not reach the same conclusions about how it ends, for myriad different reasons.
Now, this clash of reality plays itself out everyday.
We see this playing itself out in how the fairness of the American election results is perceived. How the “truth” depends on one’s political affiliation. How millions of people self select their friends (and even neighbors) based on identity. In the past, tribal identity was big C cultural (based on geography, family, language, beliefs, etc). Now it’s not so much. It’s based on the news you consume, your private groups on social media, the platform you choose. (And to be clear: this isn’t just about Americans, not in the slightest. Just yesterday, I was talking to a neighbor as we were walking our dogs and she told me about a nurse — a nurse — who didn’t “believe” in Covid-19. A nurse! In Quebec!)
Skepticism was once seen as a virtue (the early skeptics were both Mulder and Scully and called themselves “investigators” from the Greek skepsis meaning investigation ie: they investigated the truth). Now it is just another signal for your tribe…a kind of virtuesignalling. Who you believe, and why, is no longer dependent on your past as much as it is dependent on your consumption. Deep fakes challenge our assumptions (rightly). The news challenges assumptions (sadly). The way various cultural tribes use the same words challenges our (linguistic) assumptions.
And when that happens, what happens to a society? What happens to a population when things we had assumed were shared are no longer shared? When everything is subjective? Because at that point, gravity doesn’t work any longer. But first you have to believe in gravity.
There is no more center (here’s a very funny and also sad illustration of the conflation of fact and opinion and the fact we may not ever be able to identity the center again). And we are all in thrall of the drama our tribalism promotes. And the tools that tear us apart (all the while selling “community”). We like to watch the mess others create. And jump into the mosh pit ourselves every once in a while.