Inspired by the commentary from this post of all places, I spent time thinking today on the current realities. Most specifically, “With us being on the verge of complete environmental simulated encapsulation through either consumer-friendly VR glasses or full-room projections, the day will come where we’re able to transport ourselves directly into our characters. I don’t know if philosophically that level of escapism is advisiable(sic).”
Reality, to wit, is created anyhow. It is socialized from the moment we are born and constructed into us by the cultural inputs of our times. For example, this is the dreaded “generation gap” when it comes to parenting or educating. My parents, who were from a different period of time and from a far more geopolitical insular area of my home than I, raised me different than I am raising the spawn. I learned far different things than she does as well. My comic books were hard earned via chores and brought tangible (yet environmentally unfriendly) publications of brightly colored heroes whereas her accomplishments and chores often bring digital (yet environmentally friendly) reward. The concept is the same, but the reward occurs in a different space; one we cannot touch.
The Computer Age brought about a new period in human reality that had heretofore been defined in the most basic of senses: the tangible and the imagined. It brought a GUI to our imagined interface, fulfilling a prophecy of the Matrix’s philosophy it would so seem. Instant access, instant communication, instant and stalking knowledge of what and where your peers are. The family reunion became a Facebook group and profundity occurs in 140 characters or less. These are earmarked localities that define our identities, except these localities exist in only a mental place. Similar to Palaniuk’s discussion regarding how identity is more than the contents of ones wallets, you are more than your Facebook profile and you are more than your Twitter feeds.
Yet in this space, you elect a persona, adapting the identity you wish to portray. Look at your Facebook profile, realize that the bands you like at a given time do not demonstrate a specific set of life codes and photographs are just memories in still life and captured in frame. Exploration of the Yukon becomes a google search, and the image is easily referenced again, and again, and again. Ultimately, social media becomes an echo chamber of what you are and what you favor; something that was constructed starting from the moment you were born. Those who disagree with you are ignored or quieted while those that agree scatter a feed, solidifying your beliefs. Think of the irony in this: the space that was created to offer infinite ability to speak one’s mind, to learn about new things, and explore things digitally has condensed down into a social chamber of echoes, bouncing from all sides.
To a large extent, I have embraced this identity that I have created here for this blog. Buer, a Lieutenant of Hell, whose name was mentioned in the Pseudomoncharia Daemonium, is just a face I use for anonymity’s sake. It is something I have to do, because of my current employment. I readily and open embrace the idea that I constructed this identity, but this is not alone the place that we construct identities or thoughts. We do so at work, school, home, &c. We, in as much as we want to know ourselves, are constructed by the perceptions of others and our own self perceptions (remember the Thomas Theorem). Who I am at home is not who I am at work and neither of these were who I was at school.
Nietzsche writes that in life what does not kill us, makes us stronger. Then therefore, in thought, what must be defended makes one more thoughtful. The adverse effect of an echo chamber is that one does not have to defend their thoughts or their opinions, rather they are expressed and then reblogged, retweeted, or liked. We can go through life being entirely validated constantly by people who’s thoughts and opinions we too validate! This is not intellectual maturity; this is not life; this is not education. This is a sign of a construction of comfortable and interchangeable social liaisons through we cut the fat of those that are disagreeable to our deeply held and lead filled convictions. Yet, all the while, we see the negative effects of overuse.
One of the most addictive narcotics is the persona you cultivated. It is a cult of Ego so overwhelming and at times abusive that once overwrought, you cannot see who you are and what you truly believe anymore. Returning to Nietzsche in summation: “Europe has spawned two great narcotics: alcohol and Christianity.” In the Computer Age, we have spawned a third: “the Persona.” Some recognize their own hand in the creation of their online identity, whereas others completely and wholesale purchase it. Advertisers now market to you a fragment of a means to construct your reality.